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The Elephant Man (Widescreen)

Anthony Hopkins , John Hurt , David Lynch    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
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You could only see his eyes behind the layers of makeup, but those expressive orbs earned John Hurt a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his moving portrayal of John Merrick, the grotesquely deformed Victorian-era man better known as The Elephant Man. Inarticulate and abused, Merrick is the virtual slave of a carnival barker (Freddie Jones) until dedicated London doctor Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins in a powerfully understated performance) rescues him from the life and offers him an existence with dignity. Anne Bancroft costars as the actress whose visit to Merrick makes him a social curiosity, with John Gielgud and Wendy Hiller as dubious hospital staffers won over by Merrick. David Lynch earned his only Oscar nominations as director and cowriter of this somber drama, which he shot in a rich black-and-white palette, a sometimes stark, sometimes dreamy visual style that at times recalls the offbeat expressionism of his first film, Eraserhead. It remains a perfect marriage between traditional Hollywood historical drama and Lynch's unique cinematic eye, a compassionate human tale delivered in a gothic vein. The film earned eight Oscar nominations in all, and though it left the Oscar race empty-handed, its dramatic power and handsome yet haunting imagery remain just as strong today. --Sean Axmaker

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The Elephant Man

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Lynch's Finest Moment Nov. 14 2009
By Richard S. Warner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
David Lynch was, for the most part, an unknown when Hollywood, specifically Mel Brooks ( of all people !!! ), took him on to direct "The Elephant Man". He had only one feature film under his belt at the time, the incredibly dark, disturbing and hypnotically dreamlike "Eraserhead". Not exactly a precedent for taking on a film of such deeply moving and upsetting emotional tenor, but Brooks had complete faith in him. That faith was paid off in spades.

"The Elephant Man", since deleted by Paramount ( !!! ), is, in my opinion one of the best films of all time. The cast is incredible. John Hurt gives his greatest performance to date and he is completely unrecognizable as John ( Joseph ) Merrick. Anthony Hopkins' Frederic Treves is a study in reserve and restraint with tumultuous emotions and conflicts boiling under the surface. Freddie Jones as the slimy, despicable Mr. Bytes conjurs up both a hatred of his callous, opportunistic exploitation of another man's suffering and something akin to pity for the "losing his grip" desparation he portrays. Sir John Gielgud is Sir John Gielgud, all class, refinement and authority. And Dame Wendy Hiller transforms from a seemingly heartless, officious dragon lady into a woman of true compassion and strength. Finally a special mention of Anne Bancroft's turn as Dame Madge Kendall is absolutely necessary. For it's in the scene where she brings John Merrick the collected works of William Shakespeare and they randomly pick a scene from "Romeo and Juliet" to read from where we have the most heart-rending emotional moment in the entire film. I defy anyone not to be VERY deeply moved, even to tears, when she tells Mr. Merrick " ... you're Romeo".

The film is shot in black and white which is a stroke of genius.
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5.0 out of 5 stars :) April 17 2013
By Connie
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I collect all Anthony Hopkins movie and enjoyed this very much. Arrived by mail fast and I am happy ! ! ! !
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1.0 out of 5 stars DVD Feb. 5 2013
By Faith
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you live in North America, DO NOT buy DVD's from England, they do not work. I had no problems with buying, shipping, or recieving, now I'm stuck with a DVD I can't use.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and meaningful Feb. 29 2012
By Steven Aldersley TOP 50 REVIEWER
The Elephant Man (1980)
Drama, Biography, 124 minutes
Directed by David Lynch
Starring Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt and John Gielgud

Here's a film that I was completely wrong about when I first saw it. I was about 20 at the time and was probably watching it to see how grotesque the main character appeared. Now, some 30 years later, David Lynch has become one of my favorite directors and I am able to appreciate movies on a different level.

The Elephant Man is not a typical David Lynch film. You can clearly see his style all over it (such as his fascination with machinery), but the story is not as complex and difficult as later efforts; this is grounded in reality. John Merrick (Hurt) existed in Victorian England, although he was really called Joseph Merrick. A cast of his head exists and is on display in a museum with his curved spine. It took up to six hours in makeup to transform Hurt into Merrick, but the result was as authentic as possible.

Shot in black and white on a low budget in around 14 weeks, the film was made thanks to the backing of Mel Brooks. He hadn't heard of David Lynch, but backed him after seeing a screening of Eraserhead.

The most surprising thing about The Elephant Man is how human the character is. Although his outward appearance frightened many people, he is portrayed as a gentle and eloquent man. Imagine being displayed in carnivals as a freak for the first 20 years of your life. He is punished if he doesn't "perform" and is treated like an annoying animal. Would you be afraid to speak or show your intelligence in such a situation? I know I would.

Merrick is discovered by Frederick Treves (Hopkins), who is a surgeon in a London hospital.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Holds Up Well Over 30 Years Later Jan. 9 2011
I first saw this film back in 1981 at the theater when I was 12. It frightened and saddened me though I cannot say I was really traumatized by it. However, it must have made some sort of emotional impact before I have always been terrified of viewing this film in the 20-plus years that have past since then. The most disturbing aspect to me was the inhumane treatment John Merrick received. Just today I got up my courage and bought the DVD at the music store. I sat, white knuckles and all-expecting the worst. Well, I got through it. For one thing, it didn't seem as ominous this go-round. (Funny how your perceptions change as an adult). The fact that this was a period piece works to the film's benefit in that it hasn't dated at all. I am glad the producers and director agreed to use black-and-white film because it adds to the authenticity. What surprised me most was how much I had actually forgotten: the scene in the monkey cage, the fact that Anne Bancroft appeared, and more. What did always stick in my memory was what I refer to as the "raid" scene. (When the sleazy Night Porter brings his "customers" from the pub to Merrick's room, carrying John around, forcing the cheap tarts to kiss him, and then holding a mirror up to his face to purposely shock him.) Upon viewing The Elephant Man as an adult, my favorite scenes are now the most beautiful yet the saddest ones: when John meets Treeves' wife and says he never meant to be a disappointment to his mother, and the final scene as Merrick carefully takes the pillows off the bed and places them on the table. This film should be mandatory study for all North American high school students. Though even then, I am sure there would be more than a few jaded teens who would find some sort of comedy in it. Those kind are the real freaks.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Elephant man
The product details said that the film has the french track but it was not true. There is no french version on it and I wanted it, because I am french !!
Published 18 months ago by Rémi Jolibois
4.0 out of 5 stars The elephant man
Film extrêmement troublant se rapprochant de la réalité car l'homme qu'on appelle 'l'homme éléphant' a réellement existé. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Colette Racette
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD interviews welcome addition to film classic
I saw the original in 1980, and the DVD in 2004. The DVD really is a nice package. Not only do you have this great film in crystal clear quality, but the interview package at the... Read more
Published on July 2 2004 by I. Lamont
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for those with a heart and soul
The Elephant Man is a film of incredible passion and power. For those who think "power" in the movies involves supernatural abilities or mastery of martial arts or... Read more
Published on June 28 2004 by Mark J. Fowler
5.0 out of 5 stars But all the crying voices, they can turn it around
Let me start off by saying, umm... meh. I thought I had something, but I don't. I went into viewing this film with semi-high expectations. Read more
Published on May 23 2004 by Trevor Bather
2.0 out of 5 stars the oscar movie
There is a reason that this movie recieved so many Oscar nominations; it's a movie meant for the occasion. Read more
Published on March 5 2004 by "mama-jama"
5.0 out of 5 stars the elephant man
"the elephant man" is one of the most moving, sad, & best films i have ever seen. it tells the story of john merrick. Read more
Published on March 2 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-Rending and Timeless
"Time hath not altered" the emotional impact this movie has on me when I watch it. The word "poignant" has grown hackneyed from overuse, but it certainly... Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2004 by Bruce Kendall
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