Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Elephant Man Review

Fig 1.
The Elephant Man (1980), Directed by David lynch is a heart-warming film which is set in the industrial times of London, and is about one man cruelly disfigured who lives his life at a freak show at a circus and his dream of being treat like a normal human being. ‘The Elephant Man is a hard film. It’s intensely emotional, in large part because of the nature of its subject matter. It’s only through the characters and film looking at its own intentions that the true sincerity of the piece comes off.’ (B 2010)

The film focuses on John Merrick and stands by the fact that you should never judge a book by its cover.’ Merrick is tough to look at and it never really gets any easier thanks to an incredibly spot-on makeup job, his life seemed to amount to one big tragic existence before someone finally saw him as more than a simple-minded freak, and his deformity is a challenge for anyone to initially overcome. But he’s not one to pity himself, ask pity from others or be mistaken as brave, he’s just an iron will with a thirst for life who’d rather spend his time appreciating the gift horse in front of him rather than dwell on the hardships he’s had to endure. It’s a rare mind-set to find from anyone, but the challenge with Merrick is being able to see it’ (R 2011) .He is discovered by a doctor Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) who upon sight of his deformed body, feels such sadness for him that he sheds a single tear and asks the showman if he can examine John on the terms that he would return him after he has completed his study. The showman is truly an evil and selfish man who wants John for himself so that he can make money from him by selling tickets to see him in a show. He savagely beats john him as a freak and that he can live a normal life.  This story shows that having courage and pride in who thinking that he dumb and doesn’t understand anything or have any intelligence, which is soon proved to be wrong.

Frederick decides to admit John to his hospital in the hope that he can improve his living conditions and over all his life. Here John discovers that not everyone sees you are will ultimately overcome anything that is out up against you, as John begins to meet people and have them over for tea. John tells Frederick that he actually can read as well and explains that he can recite the entire bible as it is the only book that he has been able to read in all his life. This is a very interesting fact , even though he is intelligent, can read and is a genuinely pleasant person, he lived the life of a freak without resistance. This could be down to his mental state as after living an entire life as being treated like a monster it’s not hard to see why he would give up hope.

One of the defining features of this film is the performances that the actors give as this creates a true sense of empathy for John Merrick and his unfortunate life. ‘Hopkins is splendid in a subtly nuanced portrayal of a man torn between humanitarianism and qualms that his motives in introducing the Elephant Man to society are no better than those of the brutish carny.’ (Variety 1979) Dr Treves begins to doubt his actions, thinking that he is no better than the showman, showing off John to the society and making a spectacle of him, even though his intensions are good. However John is completely thankful.


Aiden, R. (2011) (accessed on 11/10/2011)

Variety. (1979) (accessed on 11/10/2011)

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