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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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Product Description

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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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for those with a heart and soul June 28 2004
Format:DVD
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 destructive weapons - The Elephant Man is perhaps not for you.
David Lynch's film is shot in black and white which gives a Victorian feel to the era depicted, but also gives a startling chiarascuro visual to many scenes.
Much of the information about the life of Mr. Merrick was obtained from accounts written by Dr. Treves, who became so celebrated that he was chosen to be Royal Physician, so it is perhaps not surprising that Treves comes off well in this film. The central performances are by John Hurt as Merrick and Anthony Hopkins as Treves, and they are both absolutely stunning. I have viewed the film a half-dozen times, and there are moments that I am moved every single time.
The Elephant Man suffers from terrible physical deformities that are only gradually shown to the audience. But we discover that his mental faculties are not hindered at all, and the scene in which this discovery is made is absolutely astonishing.
The late John Gielgud does excellent work as the hospital administrator, Mr. Carr Gomm. In the scene after it is revealed that the Elephant Man has normal intelligence Carr Gomm takes Treves aside.
"Can you IMAGINE what sort of life he has had?" (Merrick has spent his life up to that point as a side-show freak, beaten and jeered at.)
Treves looks absent-mindedly out the window before starting to reply "Yes, I think I ...."
Carr Gomm rebukes him sharply. "No you can't!" He softens his voice. "No one can.
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2.0 out of 5 stars the oscar movie March 5 2004
Format:DVD
There is a reason that this movie recieved so many Oscar nominations; it's a movie meant for the occasion. The Elephant Man is better shot, better acted and all round better made then the majority of Oscar nominated movies but ultimately it's sentimental and doesn't meet out its own potential. I was very excited to rent this movie because the more and more I see by David Lynch the more impressed I am. Both Blue Velvet and the Straight Story (just to name two) absolutely wowed me with their vision and totally original feel. I'm convinced that Lynch is one of the most notable and important living American directors. The Elephant Man looks and sounds great, but the handling of the material is just average. In a lesser movie, this wouldn't be as infuriating but in a movie with such amazing visual atmosphere you kind of expect a depth of emotion. I thought that this movie wore its morals as a cub scout badge. There was so much more potential in the material. I wanted murkiness and ambivalence. Why do we react so violently and hatefully to ugliness? Did the doctor really care about his patient or was he just another ringmaster? And most importantly, what of class? The Elephant Man's happiness seems to be entirely dependent on his acceptance into high society. The people shown reacting ignorantly to the Elephant Man are all poor and dirty. Quite a simplistic attitude if you ask me. If you are looking for a tear jerker, rent this movie, you could do worse. If you are looking for Lynch with balls, Blue Velvet is your best decision.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-Rending and Timeless Feb. 6 2004
Format:DVD
"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 applies to this great film. Few films can equal it in terms of dramatic artistry and pitch perfect performances. There's not one maudlin note in a film that could easily have descended into bathetic melodrama in lesser hands.
Lynch was practically a neophyte at the time he directed this movie, yet to many (and to most, for that matter, save the true believers) THE ELEPHANT MAN is his magnum opus. I believe this is because of the mostly Britsh, classically trained actors that made up the cast. Hopkins and Hurt excell. Anne Bancroft (who I believe is the only American in the cast) delivers a flawless performance. Freddy Jones, as Bytes (this was before the internet, remember) is simply uncanny in his tour-de-force portrayal of arguably the vilest villain in cinema history. Who cares that the character was totally innacurate, historically? He chews up the scenery in true Grand Guignol fashion. Gielgud and Wendy Hiller are also on hand to provide levitas. One can't find a better ensemble. It's criminal that at least one of them weren't awarded an Oscar, but that's just another example of how meaningless those little gold statuettes are, more often than not.
Though this is a lot more linear than most of Lynch's movies, there is enough of the surreal on hand to keep the die hards happy. But the surrealism doesn't get in the way of the plot. Christopher de Vore and Eric Bergren, who collaborated with Lynch on the screenplay, can take some credit for that. Veteran cinematographer, Freddie Francis did perhaps the best work of his career here. The black and white images are as good as it gets. The sets are unforgettable.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars :)
I collect all Anthony Hopkins movie and enjoyed this very much. Arrived by mail fast and I am happy ! ! ! !
Published 16 months ago by Connie
1.0 out of 5 stars DVD
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.
Published 18 months ago by Faith
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 19 months ago by Colette Racette
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and meaningful
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... Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2012 by Steven Aldersley
5.0 out of 5 stars Holds Up Well Over 30 Years Later
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. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2011 by Kasey G
5.0 out of 5 stars David Lynch's Finest Moment
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". Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2009 by Richard S. Warner
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 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
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
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