A Very Human Tale: An Elephant Man review.


Directed by: David Lynch.

Starring: John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud.

David Lynch is a director that has made some fairly out there choices in his directorial career and more than a few unconventional films, one of his more conventional films being the extraordinary true story of Joesph Merrick more commonly known as The Elephant Man.

Frederick Treves is a respected surgeon at London hospital, one day Treves makes an extraordinary discovery at a freak show in Londons east end, a heavy disfigured but uncommonly gentle man by the name of ‘John’ Merrick, billed by the freak show as The Elephant Man. Treves takes Merrick under his care to investigate his condition and show him the kindness he has been deprived of his whole life.

This movie has an cast of formidable acting talent, it is testament to his capability that John Hurt’s performance stands out above all others. Acting under prosthetics that render the actor completely unrecognisable, Hurt’s performance is emotive, sympathetic and utterly heartbreaking. The curvature of his body, the inflection of his distorted voice, his eyes remarkably telling when his facial features can not be, it really is a truly remarkable performance to behold. Anthony Hopkins delivers an excellent turn as Treves, determined to help a man who has been used and mistreated his entire life, it is a performance as strong as one should expect from a talent as his. In juxtaposition to Hopkins performance, Mention has to be made of Michael Elphick as the viciously cruel porter who uses Merrick for profit in a makeshift freak show once more. If there is truly a monster in this film, it is convincingly portrayed by Elphick.

For a David Lynch film, a director notorious for being particularly leftfield and unconventional in his approach to film making, this is perhaps the most conventional and human tale he has ever undertaken. Shot entirely in black & white with minimal use of his usual surreal directorial tropes, there are definitely a few moments in there showing the directors flair for the odd but it is wisely kept to a minimum. Lynch allows an extraordinary true story tell itself and handles it with a sense of humility & reverence it deserves. The Elephant Man is a story that was deservedly told by a master film maker, with an incredible cast and is film that deserves to be watched.

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