Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Elephant Man

A surgeon in Victorian London wanders through a freak show at a carnival and stumbles across The Elephant Man, a grotesquely deformed man. Seeing the benefits the man could bring to his career, he begins to lease him from his cruel "partner" for research purposes. As the surgeon begins to fathom the horrendous life the man must have lived, and sees a perceptive and sensitive side to him, he begins to secure a room for him at the hospital and give him some sense of dignity. "The Elephant Man" is David Lynch's sad and noble film on the life of John Merrick. Shot in starkly beautiful black and white, Lynch's second feature has only a few of the asides that we have come to expect from his films, and is a well made and engaging biopic. Anthony Hopkins delivers a fine performance as the decent surgeon and John Hurt's performance as Merrick is both sad and endearing, as he dons extensive makeup and speaks in low guttural sounds. John Gielgud and Anne Bancroft, whose husband Mel Brooks produced, are splendid as well in supporting roles. "The Elephant Man" makes us question our own prejudices by the way we initially react to its protagonist. The film is an example of David Lynch's talents as a director, the wonderful work of cinematographer Freddie Francis, and the great performances of his cast.
*** 1/2 out of ****