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The Elephant Man (1980)

A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of kindness, intelligence and sophistication.

Director:

David Lynch

Writers:

Christopher De Vore (screenplay), Eric Bergren (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
2,119 ( 528)
Top Rated Movies #160 | Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... Frederick Treves
John Hurt ... John Merrick
Anne Bancroft ... Mrs. Kendal
John Gielgud ... Carr Gomm
Wendy Hiller ... Mothershead
Freddie Jones ... Bytes
Michael Elphick ... Night Porter
Hannah Gordon ... Mrs. Treves
Helen Ryan ... Princess Alex
John Standing ... Fox
Dexter Fletcher ... Bytes' Boy
Lesley Dunlop ... Nora
Phoebe Nicholls ... Merrick's Mother
Pat Gorman ... Fairground Bobby
Claire Davenport Claire Davenport ... Fat Lady
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Storyline

Joseph "John" Merrick is an intelligent and friendly man, but he is hated by his Victorian-era English society because he is severely deformed. Once he is discovered by a doctor, however, he is saved from his life in a freak show and he is treated like the human being that he really is. Written by Sam Cibula

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

I am not an animal! I am a human being! I...am...a man!

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 October 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre elefante See more »

Filming Locations:

Broadgate, London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$26,010,864

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$26,010,864
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Brooksfilms See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a 2008 interview with The Guardian about the making of this movie, Mel Brooks recalled that David Lynch was unprepared for the bitter cold of the London winter and didn't have a suitable overcoat (which Brooks bought him), also that he couldn't adapt to not eating Bob's Big Boy burgers every day: "He's very obsessive-compulsive that way, but, you know, he did find a burger joint in London and he ate there every day, too". On the casting of Anne Bancroft, Brooks said, " She had already won the Oscar for The Miracle Worker (1962) and she was the producer's wife, so, no, she didn't have to audition. Are you crazy?" See more »

Goofs

Although it claims to be based on non-fictional writings and primary sources, the movie is full of historical inaccuracies and fictionalized incidents, starting with the fact that Merrick's first name was actually Joseph, not John. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Skeleton Man: Get rid of them! I don't want to see them!
Fat Lady: Darling, don't be difficult! Let's take our sweet lovely children on an outing.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Closing disclaimer: This has been based upon the true life story of John Merrick, known as The Elephant Man, and not upon the Broadway play of the same title or any other fictional account. See more »

Connections

Referenced in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Freaks & Geeks (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio for Strings, Op. 11
Composed by Samuel Barber
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by André Previn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the greatest films, but so little appreciated
15 June 2000 | by TG-15See all my reviews

I first saw The Elephant Man at its pre-release showing in 1980, and it struck an immediate and resonant chord with me. Few movies are like this, and it remains (many viewings later) one of my top 10 films of all time.

The plot is presented well in other reviews here, so I will not repeat it or comment further. Of the film itself I would only add that it is without doubt the most mature and satisfying of David Lynch's works - in many ways it is the final, polished jewel carved from the rough and ugly (but fascinating) diamond of Eraserhead, with the self-conscious artiness and juvenile qualities of the earlier film distilled into a potent and poignant statement on the human condition.

Some critics have dismissed The Elephant Man as an exercise in emotional manipulation, however I believe this completely misses the point. All films are manipulative to some degree, but it is a manipulation in which we as an audience engage by consent. The Elephant Man will stand the final test and it will be appreciated fully by future audiences, in much the same way as Citizen Kane had to wait for some decades until audiences were able to fully comprehend its greatness.


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