REVIEW: The Elephant Man

First of all, I must say that you really need to have a very strong stomach to watch The Elephant Man; not so much because of Merrick’s deformity but what had happened to him, what does happen to him and when we explore his past and who he really is, you need to be brave and watch this. I have seen many films in my time but this is the one film where I have felt almost incredibly sick because of the sympathy I have for John and what he goes through in the film. Those who are watching it for the first time or are at least giving it a long overdue re-watch, you perhaps might need to watch it with subtitles because you can’t always understand what John is saying.

The most appalling side of the film’s release is that it is a PG! I am astounded at that rating decision because there literally is nothing PG about it, like at all! It needs to be an R/15 rating at least. There are many segments that do and would terrify the audiences and would feel rather intense such as when specifically we will see John’s severely deformed face for the first time. What makes the film even more terrifying is the music especially in that sickening bullying and abusive scene and that it was filmed in black-and-white over colour because I think it would have felt like a totally different film if it was filmed in colour.

Anthony Hopkins gave an outstanding performance as kind and considerate Dr. Frederick Treves. I saw Hopkins as a villain before I saw The Elephant Man; most notably his Academy Award winning performance as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs. As for his performance in The Elephant Man, Hopkins was the perfect actor for that character because he perfectly showed his affection, his sympathy and his respect for John. How he wasn’t nominated for Best Leading Actor, I don’t think I’ll ever know. John Hurt was even better as severely deformed John Merrick (real-life name Joseph Merrick) and where he was just outstanding in this film is that he provides a performance where he makes John/Joseph Merrick his own character and it is like the audience perhaps felt more affection towards John in this film than the real one. The effects on the face of John looked so real! I think it was perhaps a combination of both a mask, make-up and perhaps some computer effects. The message is simple; that John is a real man with feelings and has a lot of respect for those around him; even those who don’t show him any and it also shows that just because one may not be the most attractive person in the world, there is and can be beauty and peace in one’s heart which is exactly who John/Joseph was. Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud and Wendy Hiller all gave great performances as well.

When The Elephant Man was made, David Lynch was at the early stages of his career and after that extremely bizarre sci-fi/horrorEraserhead which, quite frankly, I wasn’t impressed by but this time he goes on to something different than he had done before and hasn’t made anything similar to since. Despite the fact that it is a true story, Lynch still goes to his traditional style of a rather horrifying character to look at with quite a disturbing and uneasy dialogue and for me, has created his finest film ever. He co-wrote the script with Christopher De Vore and Eric Bergren and they all did a fantastic job! There were many scenes in The Elephant Man that didn’t even feel scripted! On some occasions, it felt like casual conversation especially when Treves was trying to teach John how to speak English properly and I love moments like that in a film. Many have and still argue that both The Elephant Man and Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull were robbed of Best Picture by Ordinary People and despite the fact I haven’t seen Ordinary People yet, they were both truly robbed! For me, this was the Best Picture winner of the films released in 1980 (well, of those nominated anyway – best film of 1980 – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back).

Overall, The Elephant Man is a tale of pure heartbreak, tragedy and the evil side of human beings but on the bright side, it is a beautiful, inspiring and thought-provoking story that could perhaps make the viewers cry with both beauty and tragedy. It also proves itself to be one of the most remarkable true stories of our time and will touch all hearts and make us all realise who the good people are and who the bad people are in the world.


~ by SJMJ91 on 18/05/2012.

One Response to “REVIEW: The Elephant Man”

  1. Reblogged this on PORTAFOLIO. BITACORA DE UN TRANSFUGA. 2000.2010.

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