The Elephant Man

1980  124 MN


The Elephant Man on IMDb
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David Lynch

A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man being mistreated by his "owner" as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of great intelligence and sensitivity. Based on the true story of Joseph Merrick (called John Merrick in the film), a severely deformed man in 19th century London.

 Release Date

October 2, 1980


2h4m (124 min)

 Top Billed Cast

 Anthony Hopkins
 Dr. Frederick Treves
 John Hurt
 John Merrick
 Anne Bancroft
 Mrs. Kendal
 John Gielgud
 Carr Gomm
 Wendy Hiller
 Freddie Jones

 Written by

David Lynch Screenplay
Eric Bergren Screenplay
Christopher De Vore Screenplay



Anthony Hopkins
  Dr. Frederick Treves
John Hurt
  John Merrick
Anne Bancroft
  Mrs. Kendal
John Gielgud
  Carr Gomm
Wendy Hiller
Freddie Jones
Michael Elphick
  Night Porter
Hannah Gordon
  Mrs. Anne Treves
Helen Ryan
  Princess Alex
John Standing
  Dr. Fox
Dexter Fletcher
  Bytes' Boy
Phoebe Nicholls
  Merrick's Mother
Pat Gorman
  Fairground Bobby
Kenny Baker
  Plumed Dwarf
Claire Davenport
  Fat lady
Orla Pederson
  Skeleton Man
Patsy Smart
  Distraught Woman
Kathleen Byron
  Lady Waddington
William Morgan Sheppard
  Man In Pub
Frederick Treves
Richard Hunter
Robert Lewis Bush
Roy Evans
Joan Rhodes
Nula Conwell
  Nurse Kathleen
Tony London
  Young Porter
Alfie Curtis
Bernadette Milnes
  1st Fighting Woman
Carol Harrison
Hugh Manning
Dennis Burgess
  1st Committee Man
Fanny Carby
  Mrs. Kendal's Dresser
Gerald Case
  Lord Waddington
David Ryall
  Man With Whores
Deirdre Costello
  1st Whore
Pauline Quirke
  2nd Whore
Marcus Powell
Lesley Scoble
  Siamese Twin
Eiji Kusuhara
  Japanese Bleeder
Patricia Hodge
  Screaming Mum
Tommy Wright
  First Bobby
Peter Davidson
  Second Bobby
John Rapley
  King In Panto
Janie Kells
Lydia Lisle
  Merrick's Mother
Eric Bergren
  Lyra Box Player #1 (uncredited)
Christopher De Vore
  Lyra Box Player #2 (uncredited)
Harry Fielder
  Policeman (uncredited)
David Lynch
  Man in the Bowler Hat in the Mob Chasing Merrick (uncredited)
Ralph Morse
  Young aristocrat (uncredited)
Fred Wood
  Injured Man (uncredited)
  Fire Eater
James Cormack
Brenda Kempner
  2nd Fighting Woman
Chris Greener
Gilda Cohen
Teri Scoble
  Siamese Twin
Robert Day
  Little Jim
Hugh Spight
  Puss In Panto
Teresa Codling
  Princess In Panto
Marion Betzold
  Principal Boy
Caroline Haigh
Florenzio Morgado
Victor Kravchenko
  Lion / Coachman
Beryl Hicks
Michele Amas
Lucie Alford
Penny Wright
Jack Armstrong
  Man at Lecture (uncredited)
Adam Caine
  Kid at Train Station (uncredited)
Tony Clarkin
  Thug from Pub (uncredited)
Dave Cooper
  Man in crowd (uncredited)
Chick Fowles
  Man in Pub (uncredited)
Norman Gay
  Doctor (uncredited)
George Holdcroft
  Lecture Assistant (uncredited)
Juba Kennerley
  Committee Member (uncredited)
Jay McGrath
  Man at Lecture (uncredited)
Henry Roberts
  Man at Lecture (uncredited)
Peter Ross-Murray
  Drunken Docker (uncredited)
Kevin Schumm
  Kid at Train Station #2 (uncredited)
Ian Selby
  Courtier (uncredited)
Guy Standeven
  Committee Member (uncredited)
Reg Thomason
  Lecture Assistant (uncredited)


John Morris
  Original Music Composer
Maggie Cartier
David Lynch
David Lynch
David Lynch
  Sound Designer
Patricia Norris
  Costume Design
Stuart Craig
  Production Design
Neil Corbould
  Special Effects
Anne V. Coates
Anthony Waye
  Assistant Director
Martin Gutteridge
  Special Effects Supervisor
Mel Brooks
  Executive Producer
Robin Gregory
  Sound mixer
Terry Sharratt
  Boom Operator
Jonathan Sanger
Graham Longhurst
  Special Effects
Stuart Cornfeld
  Executive Producer
Robert Cartwright
  Art Direction
Tiny Nicholls
  Costume Supervisor
Paul Corbould
  Special Effects
Eric Bergren
Christopher De Vore
John Roberts
  Set Designer
Terence A. Clegg
  Production Manager
Patrick Moore
  Assistant Editor
Wally Schneiderman
  Makeup Artist
Hugh Scaife
  Set Decoration
Alan Splet
  Special Sound Effects
Terry Wells
  Property Master
Peter Horrocks
  Sound Editor
Ceri Evans
  Script Supervisor
Frank Connor
  Still Photographer
Stephanie Kaye
Wick Finch
Christopher Tucker
  Makeup Designer
Garth Inns
  Special Effects
Roy Larner
Jack Hayes
Brian Hathaway
  Transportation Captain


- John Merrick was actually named Joseph Merrick in real life.


 New Quote

I wish I would sleep like normal people.
– John Merrick


I am not an animal! I am not an animal! I am a human being.
– John Merrick



 New Review

The Elephant Men
By Jack Anderson on August 21, 2019

After the short-film The Grandmother and the equally experimental feature Eraserhead, young filmmaker David Lynch agreed to direct a movie based on a script that would not have been written by him. He met a producer over lunch, who presented five scripts to him. The first one was titled The Elephant Man. David Lynch said, "that's it!" and off he went to start working on the film.

The beginnings were rather difficult to say the least. Lynch decided he would do the make-up himself, even though the producers told him that the role of a movie director is quite a busy one. And unfortunately, during pre-production, his attempts to make a believable John Merrick failed, leaving Lynch already behind schedule and feeling in a state of depression so vast that he contemplated suicide. Lucky for him, the producer Mel Brooks agreed to find a make-up artist and reschedule the movie so that it would allow for the changes. This worked and Lynch was back on track.

But things were not so easy then, as a relatively unknown director who had only directed a completely odd film, Lynch had to prove himself against the cast and crew. Even lead actor Anthony Hopkins doubted Lynch and asked why he was allowed to direct the film.

Even worse, near the end of the shooting, some members of the crew insisted to see a rough cut of the film. Lynch executed and the feedback was extremely negative, putting once again the filmmaker in the chair of the person being judged and having to prove himself.

Most people know David Lynch for his wild experimental movies that have either a profound meaning or no sense whatsoever, depending on who you ask. I believe that many under-appreciate the work from Lynch, by focusing on the crazy dreams and not understanding that he is a tremendously talented director. The Elephant Man is a proof of that.

From the very first second, the movie is a classic. The black and white, the sublime light, the cinemascope 2.35 format, the way Lynch tells his story and master the camera. There are some scenes that are so powerful that I have little words to describe them.

Behind his repulsive physical appearance, John Merrick is a refined and sensible person, finding beauty – and perhaps even solace – in reading the Holy Bible, appreciating wearing equally refined clothes, crafting a model of a church. What works great is that the story talks to each of us. We have all been John Merrick in our own lives, whether because of a physical abnormality or simply feeling outcast from a group or even from life itself. While the degree of loneliness varies, we are all or have been or will be John Merrick.

And logically, we can only truly and deeply care about John. When facing the wife of the doctor for the very first time, John breaks down and cries. When asked what is the matter, he simply says that he has never been used to be politely introduced before. Once again, this talks to the audience on a profound scale. By going into the abyss and the extraordinary case of John Merrick, we find the inner light and the so-called elephant man reveals his beauty.

Most people suffering from a handicap are not handicapped, but in a situation of handicap. What I mean by that is that it is society – and by society I mean people – that reflect the handicap in the eyes of the handicapped person. Let us say that someone would have a very large scar on his face. Would that be a problem in the daily life? Of course not one bit. But it is in the eyes of the others that the handicap suddenly is being revealed. When I see someone in a wheelchair or with a severe physical handicap, I do not watch at that person, but focus my attention on the surrounding people and how they react and gaze at the individual. I'm not saying I am better than them – or worse for that matter. All I am saying is that we are always handicapped compared to others. People may feel bad about their shortness, their hair, their teeth, their ears. People may walk differently or talk differently. But at the end, we are all on this Earth for such a short time that all the suffering means nothing and the morale is that we should be reminded that all people are created equal in their spirit and that we should not look at handicapped people with a stare, but on the contrary with a smile and give them our heart the same way we would to anyone else.

And in this film, we can see that the ugly ones are not John Merrick. The ugly people are the others. The ugliness resides in the heart and not in the physical appearance. At the end, the movie may have been called The Elephant Men.

I give it 9 out of 10. Outstanding.


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