Wednesday, January 13, 2010

#127 The Elephant Man (1980)


Director: David Lynch
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Giegland, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones

This film attempts to bring back to life the story of Englishman John Merrick, a man who suffered from tumors covering 90% of his body causing severe deformation-- due to which, he became known as The Elephant Man. I can say that this film did a respectful and sensitive view on the story, and although I'm sure some (if not most) of this version of the story is based in fiction, it was an interesting film of extremes: the ugliness of a deformed human vs. the inner-ugliness of people who are cruel to those they don't understand.

Although this film was made in 1980, it is shot in black and white and in a style that is very reminiscent of early 1930s film-making. I found this very odd actually-- even the acting was over-dramatized in some parts to mimic classic hollywood style. It does help set the scene and manages to make some parts of the film more eerie and uncomfortable-- I guess that was the point.

Still, something about this film didn't grab me. I was entertained, disturbed, but at times-- bored. I came into the film expecting to witness disturbing human cruelty, and that is exactly what I was dished. Something about this genre of story turns me off-- while important and fascinating, it's just not my first choice in terms of content. I respect what Lynch did for the story of this man's life, but I don't think I'd need to see this film ever again to feel that I've seen it enough.

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