2015 Blind Spot Series: The Elephant Man



What I knew going in: The basic story.

Dr. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) comes across a side show act centered around a "freak" known as the Elephant Man. This man is actually John Merrick (John Hurt) who suffers from a mysterious illness. Treves attempts to take him away from his abusive life to study him further, only to find out that John is actually a very articulate and gentle soul.

It's only March, but this is my favorite one so far. It was shot in 1980, but it's shot in black and white and it makes it feel much older. The story was fascinating, and aggravating at times. Seriously, I wanted to punch that Night Porter so badly. Both Hopkins and Hurt were wonderful. Hurt especially gives a great performance under all that make up.

I've had quite a few people tell me this isn't of of Lynch's bests, but honestly, this is fantastic. The only film of his I've seen in full is Eraserhead, and this one felt so different. He's on my Blind Spot list one more time with Mulholland Drive. My only real complaint with it is the final scene being a little weird in comparison to the rest of the film.

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "My life is full because I know I am loved." - John Merrick (John Hurt)

24 comments:

  1. This was definitely a good choice and one that should be seen at some point. It's also probably one of David Lynch's more accessible films, at least compared to Eraserhead and a lot of his later movies (including Mulholland Dr.), though you can definitely see traces of his style here. For one thing, Freddie Jones (Mr. Bytes) would go on to be a regular collaborator. He pops up again in Lynch's next movie Dune (which also introduced fellow regulars Kyle MacLachlan and Everett McGill), as well as Wild at Heart and an episode of Hotel Room (both of which also featured another regular of Lynch's, Harry Dean Stanton). The Elephant Man definitely a bit more straight forward (and it was the movie that brought Lynch into mainstream filmmaking) but even that one has some moments demonstrating the subjective quality that Lynch seems to enjoy giving his films.

    If you like The Elephant Man, the other two more straight forwards ones I'd recommend are The Straight Story and Blue Velvet. The Straight Story is pretty much the opposite of Lynch's usual style, taking away all the usual subjective qualities and instead creating a very simplistic narrative about an old man driving a lawn mower from Iowa to Wisconsin (and its inspired by a real person). Blue Velvet is a bit more straight forward compared to Lynch's films in that it actually has an easily comprehensible narrative, but there is still a bit of the subjective quality to it and there are some really weird moments. There is also Dennis Hopper playing what might best be described as a grown-up version of Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange. You might also enjoy Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost's bizarre soap opera (which has actually been a major influence on a lot of modern television programs).

    It should be interesting to hear your thoughts on Mulholland Dr. That was an interesting film (I've lost track of how many times I've seen it and I still don't understand it all). It's hard to pin my favorite Lynch movie but Mulholland Dr. is one that I would argue was one of his best.

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    1. I've had Blue Velvet recommended to me before, so that's definitely one I think I'll seek out eventually. I'm looking forward to Mulholland Dr later this year.

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  2. Of Lynch's work I've only seen this and Mulholland Drive. The latter just makes my head spin, and not in a good way. The Elephant Man is fantastic, though. You're right about it feeling older than it is. It's not shot in that same extra sharp b&w as Sin City or The Artist, it looks authentically old. That works for this film, though. Great review.

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    1. Oh it definitely does! Mulholland Drive is also on my Blind Spot list, so we'll see how that goes.

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  3. Oh I've been meaning to see this for so long, I need to start 2016's Blind Spot list already, ha! Great review :)
    - Allie

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    1. I'm already thinking about my 2016 list too. I think I'll try to focus on movies from the 50's and before that time around.

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  4. This sounds excellent. The only Lynch films I've seen are Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. My daughter says Eraserhead is the strangest movie she's ever seen. :-)

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    1. Eraserhead is really weird, but a good weird.

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  5. I think this is one of Lynch's finest films as it's one of my favorites but also a real heartbreaker. Hurt's performance is truly tremendous as I think Lynch did an awesome job with the film.

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  6. I have always wanted to see this one as well, but for whatever reason have routinely missed it over and over again. I'm definitely in for it now.

    I'm pretty much a Lynch rookie, as I've only seen Mulholland Dr. and Lost Highway, and each of those films made me feel like I was from another planet. Or just really, really stupid.

    Hmm.

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    1. This is on Netflix Instant right now if it helps. And you're not stupid, but I get the feeling. I felt stupid watching The Fountain because to this day I still couldn't tell anyone what the point was.

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  7. This film absolutely d-e-v-a-s-t-a-t-e-s me when I watch it. More so than any other film. I've seen everything the man has done and this is definitely in my top 3 of his works. The cinematography by Freddie Francis is stunning and John Hurt's performance is moving to tears.

    Curious about what you will think about Mulholland Dr.

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    1. I'm glad you like this on so much as well! I think Mulholland will be my June Blindspot at the earliest, so we'll see how that goes.

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  8. YAY!!! I'm so glad you loved this! Anyone who tells you that this isn't one of Lynch's best obviously doesn't know what they're talking about. This is probably my favorite Lynch, outside of possibly Eraserhead...but it's debatable. Mulholland Drive is remarkable, but very bizarre.

    UGH, I love this movie so much!

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    1. A lot of people told me that actually. I'm even more shocked by it now after loving it so much.

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  9. Good movie, right? I saw this years ago and really liked it. But it has been soooo long. Glad you liked this one Brittani!

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  10. I've heard of this but somehow I didn't realize John Hurt was playing the Elephant Man. I might give this a shot, especially since you love it so much.

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    1. You should! I don't think I ever paid attention to the cast list before seeing this either.

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  11. I am so glad that you actually saw this film Brittany and this is easily my favorite David Lynch movie that I have seen so far besides Eraserhead. . Also, I am a Lynch rookie as well, so I don't have that much experiences with his directorial style besides the two movies that I have mentioned in the comment.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I was so impressed with this. I can't wait to check out more from him.

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  12. Glad you loved it! Sadly, it almost feels underrated. John Hurt is amazing, no doubt.

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    1. It really does. This isn't the film I hear people talk about when they talk about David Lynch.

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