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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 intelligence and sensitivity.

Director:

David Lynch

Writers:

Christopher De Vore (screenplay), Eric Bergren (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
2,344 ( 120)
Top Rated Movies #148 | 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

John Merrick (whose real name was Joseph, as this is based on a true story) 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:

12 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 January 1981 (Netherlands) 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, 31 December 1981
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

One of two black-and-white movies to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1981, the other was Raging Bull (1980). Both lost to Ordinary People (1980). See more »

Goofs

When Frederick Treves is bring up the oatmeal to John Merrick and Carr Gomm startles him he puts the oatmeal behind his back as to hide it from him. In the next shot he has the oatmeal in front of him and puts it behind his back again while he is walking towards Carr Gomm. 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 An Idiot Abroad: The Short Way Around: China (2012) 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

See more »

User Reviews

David Lynch's most accessible work. A truly remarkable film!
3 February 2004 | by InfofreakSee all my reviews

I first watched 'The Elephant Man' over twenty years ago, not long after it was released. It was the first David Lynch movie I ever saw, thought at the time I'd never even heard about 'Eraserhead' and knew nothing about the guy. I was incredibly impressed by the film, as I have been every time I watch it. Eventually I became a big Lynch fan, and could see the similarities between 'Eraserhead' and 'The Elephant Man', both visually and in their use of sound. Apart from that, they are very different movies. 'Eraserhead' still freaks most people out, but 'The Elephant Man' is arguably his most accessible film. It has heart and an emotional impact, something rare in Lynch's movies ('The Straight Story' is another exception). Anthony Hopkins is an actor I've frankly had it up to HERE with, especially after his increasingly hammy Dr. Hannibal Lecter, but boy, is he wonderful here! Probably his finest performance to date. Of course John Hurt is superb too, especially taking into consideration him having to work under pounds of make up. It's hard to fault anybody in the supporting cast, especially John Gielgud and Hannah Gordon, who plays Hopkins wife. Freddie Jones, who Lynch has worked with a few times since, is really evil as Bytes, and the late Michael Elphick ('The Element Of Crime', 'Withnail and I') plays another memorable baddie as the hospital's night porter. 'The Elephant Man' is a remarkable achievement. Lynch doesn't seem to have compromised his unique vision one bit and yet manages to make a genuinely moving drama about one of the screen's most unlikely heroes. I don't throw the term "masterpiece" around lightly but it's difficult not to use that word when describing this truly extraordinary film! Simply one of the best movies I've ever seen.


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