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The Elephant Man
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The Elephant Man

1980
Drama
Biography
2h 4m
A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity. (imdb)
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The Elephant Man

1980
Drama
Biography
2h 4m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 70.69% from 6314 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(6314)
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Rated 03 May 2009
10
97th
I'm kinda speechless. The film is directed with such subtlety and deliberation, you can't help but care for the main character. John Hurt plays him exceedingly well, a great performance, more than just clothes and makeup (the latter being amazing). Hopkins is perfect as the kind and caring doctor. I would like to recommend this film to everyone, especially to those who like myself may have found its subject arresting and off-putting. Pretty much a beautiful film.
Rated 03 Jan 2018
95
96th
This is how I felt while watching Magic Mike in the theater and all the women kept pointing and fainting.
Rated 26 Jan 2008
91
93rd
It's a terribly tragic but amazing film. Hopkins is great and John Hurt is amazing as The Elephant Man as he's able to convey so much despite being covered in massive amounts of make-up and costume. Lynch's trademark surreal style is evident, most notably in the dream sequences, the entire film does have a subtle dream-like feel to it. The Elephant Man is a surprisingly touching film that allows you to emotionally connect with the title character.
Rated 12 Dec 2014
90
93rd
Maybe I missed the point of the film, but I don't see the problem with exploiting grossly oversized physical features for profit. Well, guess I'm off to Hooters for their world famous chicken wings!
Rated 22 Nov 2008
9
93rd
The story of John Merrick is very emotional and beautiful and one that profoundly affected me. John Hurt is amazing and this is a definitive Lynch film and one of his best.
Rated 13 Apr 2012
90
95th
A film at it's most compelling when carefully examining the apparent illusion of alturism, and the difficult discrimination between those with or without goodness. The few setups that seemed dangerously close to heavy-handed melodrama were marvellously well handled by Lynch, to the point where they mostly came across as genuine and subtle. Brilliant.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
73rd
People sometimes get too hung up on David Lynch's idiosyncrasies and forget what a tremendously talented director he is. The Elephant Man has none of the surreal elements most people associate with his work, but it has the same eerie atmosphere as Eraserhead and his early short films.
Rated 29 Aug 2008
90
95th
There is not a lot to be missed in this movie, it got the captivating and touching story of John Merrick which is told at great pace. Cinematography by Lynch and his men is awesome. The Art department did a wonderful job to visualize victorian Britain, sound and music is great and last but not least John Hurts acting is just fabulous and is supported by a fantastic Anthony Hopkins.
Rated 26 Sep 2008
85
80th
I had never heard of Joseph Merrick before watching this film. This is an obviously very powerful story, and it was nice to see Lynch putting many of his stylistic resources on hold in favor of storytelling, even though this was only his second film.
Rated 26 Sep 2009
10
97th
A raw emotional film. Hopkins gives a great performance and Hurt is absolutely wonderful. It was a treat to watch though a very saddening story as you would expect.
Rated 07 Jul 2007
95
99th
Emotionally and visually gripping from start to finish, it couples a sensitive retelling of the trials of John Merrick with fantastic acting and direction. Hopkins is great but Hurt simply could have been any better in such a difficult role to portray. Not to be missed.
Rated 23 May 2013
35
31st
As generally acknowledged, it's rather conventional and straight-forward for a Lynch film (although there are several moments where he seems to be asserting his directorial voice almost just for the sake of it). But it is generally very well-made and nicely filmed, and the story is quite moving in it's own way. The most interesting thing about it is probably that it reveals Lynch's deep seated penchant for completely earnest sentimentality that often gets mistaken for "irony" in his other films.
Rated 30 Jul 2008
88
88th
It's about the best and the worst in people. It's one of the most moving films I've seen.
Rated 12 Dec 2020
85
80th
It's a little uneven but there's at least three tear-worthy moments. Dude gets alienated his whole life until Anne Bancroft kneels before him and says "you dropped this, king", how can you not love it?
Rated 30 May 2009
97
96th
It is the tragic story of Robert " The Elephant Man" Melvin a Man who went to Hell and back. A Journey of pain, rejection & exclusion. This Movie is so sad on one side but full of hope on the other in Person of Frederick Treves ( Excellent played by Anthony Hopkins ) Society thinks Melvin is disgusting, the only thing that's disgusting are intolerant people like those gapers on the funfair.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
89
85th
The Elephant Man is a tragic, moving, and exceptionally acted film. It's sad, but at the same time, you can't help but be amazed by how good a man John Merrick was even through all of his hardship. The film is as much about kindness and belonging as it is a biographic story. Really good!
Rated 14 Aug 2007
100
90th
Decided to up this a point after watching it again. It is pretty damn excellent in every aspect. The scene in which the Elephant Man recites the 23rd psalm is deeply touching and only one example of the many brilliant parts of this movie. Superb.
Rated 07 Oct 2013
18
20th
lol get plastic syrgery ugly
Rated 20 Apr 2008
100
96th
Fantastic film. And a real tearjerker too. Truly masterful direction by David Lynch... You know, I love his other work, but sometimes I wish he'd make some more "conventional" films like this.
Rated 01 Jan 2011
7
88th
On understanding & tolerance. The danger with this subject matter is of succumbing to screeching melodrama, but I'd say Lynch successfully avoids coming across as emotionally manipulative -- kind of. Certain scenes were heartbreaking, others were slightly over-the-top. But Lynch is obviously very talented, and his gift for crafting a memorable & haunting story is just as evident here as it is in his more surreal films, perhaps more so. Casting the great John Hurt doesn't, erm, hurt either.
Rated 21 Nov 2010
85
72nd
I need to give it another watch; there is so much going on with regards to architecture and urbanization, and abnormality and normalisation, beyond what appears to be Lynch's most openly sentimental turn (excepting The Straight Story, of course). How "authorial intent" factors here is irrelevant; it's a rich work offering plenty to read.
Rated 01 Dec 2006
94
84th
Heartwarming and very human film. Not comparable to other Lynch films, its a whole different thing. Still very beautiful.
Rated 18 Mar 2007
86
76th
This is Lynch's greatest film that is nothing like a Lynch film. It's emotionally gripping and visually interesting. John Hurt puts on the performance of his career as The Elephant Man. It's a must-see for everyone.
Rated 07 May 2007
84
82nd
A must-see!
Rated 27 Jun 2007
92
92nd
A wonderful film.
Rated 14 Jul 2007
90
92nd
The story of John Merrick deeply affected me as a child, and this movie is a stirring depiction of his life. Horribly depressing, though tender. It's funny that one of David Lynch's most "normal" movies is based on the story of a hideously-deformed circus freak.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
91st
Hey, a David Lynch film with a fairly conventional structure that didn't confuse me once! That's pretty rare. John Hurt gives an excellent performance from beneath a ton of foam latex.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
97th
Dark and very moving, yet wisely kept clear of melodrama. In my view, The Elephant Man was Lynch's second and final great film.
Rated 18 Jul 2018
85
85th
I wonder how many children went as the Elephant Man for Halloween in 1980
Rated 14 Aug 2007
100
97th
Beautiful, touching, and moving film. Can't say enough good things about it.
Rated 05 Aug 2013
5
93rd
Lynch's second feature exists in the shadow of his awesome debut, and though The Elephant Man is a more traditional narrative, grotesque flesh deformation and industrial hum and clang of Victorian London are direct successors to Eraserhead, and certainly the film isn't without strange macabre flourishes anyway. The sensitivity is all its own: consideration for the merits of altruism, exploitation of otherness, ostensive and genuine tolerance. Hopkins and Hurt thread those needles brilliantly.
Rated 18 Nov 2007
79
24th
This could have been put across as a fascinating Victorian dream-myth about exploitation and science, but in in Lynch's hands it just becomes a mushy triumph-of-the-human-spirit story. In other words, Lynch's first cop-out.
Rated 18 Aug 2011
94
93rd
The most straight and clear story by Lynch which leaves you absolutely satisfied.
Rated 21 Jul 2008
85
70th
David Lynch's best work!
Rated 09 Oct 2008
89
93rd
The most untypical Lynch of Lynch's movies, but really good!
Rated 05 Jan 2009
90
98th
Dark heartbreaking story.
Rated 30 Jan 2009
85
96th
Magnificent!
Rated 11 Feb 2009
55
26th
What a freak.
Rated 25 Dec 2010
89
89th
88.875
Rated 10 Jun 2009
97
99th
Unspeakably sad and touching story which disturbs. So good performance by Hurt and story with such strong meaning.
Rated 16 Jul 2009
94
94th
Restrained Lynch is still phenomenal Lynch. Kudos to Hurt for giving a performance beyond the realms of his prosthetics, and touching acting all around, for that matter, for a story that does reach towards what it means to be human. Shockingly profound and disturbing (the commoners' busting into the room is as good as Bunuel's Beggar's Banquet or Browning's one-of-us Wedding Reception).
Rated 25 May 2020
88
80th
So Sonny Jim of Twin Peaks S3 was an Elephant Man reference. Amazing
Rated 08 Aug 2014
85
63rd
What people forget about Lynch is that he does sentiment extremely well. John Hurt is amazing at imbuing Merrick with a kind of painful dignity.
Rated 21 Feb 2011
75
83rd
Completely unsettling, makes your heart hurt.
Rated 12 Apr 2020
100
98th
Under Quarantine Film Reviews #39: Human beings are the cruelest animals. You can be the kindest man in the world but just because you may look different, you will be ostracized & David Lynch is the perfect director to capture it. There is no one better to deftly balance the warmness of John with the coldness of the general public. However, all this would not have been possible without the performance of John Hurt, who is simply fantastic. Oh and keep a box of tissues nearby, I think I ran out.
Rated 02 Dec 2006
78
70th
Great movie
Rated 12 Dec 2006
68
20th
It's interesting and creatively shot but I had a hard time getting past how manipulative the whole thing felt.
Rated 20 Mar 2024
70
69th
"The Elephant Man" is an engaging and by Lynch's standards surprisingly accessible, straightforward watch throughout, boasting very good cinematography, great - and faithful - prosthetics, really good acting (especially by Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt), and some competent, interesting character work that might not necessarily be super subversive yet has a couple of things to say. It could perhaps be argued that it flirts a little with emotional manipulation, but thankfully it doesn't overdo it.
Rated 29 Dec 2016
97
95th
A
Rated 15 Sep 2013
81
74th
You could be forgiven for thinking this was an original creation of Lynch. His 'The Elephant Man' to Burtons 'Scissorhands' yet it is a true biopic. Taking the essence of the real Merick's life and pulling out of it a class-based tier system of showmanship. You leave the film with the feeling the educated, upper class have a pure empathy but so lingers an after taste of curiosity. Though, not a verbatim retelling of the man's life, it ends on the same poetic note presumably he ended his.
Rated 30 Nov 2011
69
38th
#626
Rated 14 Aug 2007
100
99th
This movie is cryin' ..
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
68th
it's whats inside that counts.
Rated 19 Feb 2024
85
94th
Where a more characteristic Lynchian style is prevalent, the film is weakest. It seems odd, but I think it's clear that Lynch has a knack for this sentimental tear-jerking stuff (yes, I did), as evidenced also by The Straight Story. This is a fine film, with great performances all around, and Freddie Francis' distinctive cinematography.
Rated 29 Nov 2011
77
75th
I know David Lynch fans don't really like to hear this, but I think this is the best movie David Lynch has ever made.
Rated 18 Aug 2007
78
55th
I like this movie. IT's funny.
Rated 23 Aug 2007
68
64th
Good
Rated 16 Sep 2007
60
39th
well acted and good looking, but hokey
Rated 25 Mar 2024
73
47th
Opinión personal: 7 Actores: 7 Guión: 7.5 Fotografía: 8 BSO: 7 Otros:7.5 Iluminación:8 FX: Director:8 Humor: Vestuario/caracterización:9 Ritmo:5 Total: 73
Rated 17 May 2016
91
82nd
Anyone who walks away from David Lynch's The Elephant Man unmoved clearly has no heart at all.
Rated 13 Dec 2011
70
42nd
dram, ucube, doktor, doktor-hasta, acimak, gercek bir hikaye, deformasyon (sirklerde perde arkasindan gösterilen John Merrick isimli isimli ucubenin bir doktor tarafindan fark edilmesi ve hastaneye yatirilmasini anlatiyor.)
Rated 20 Dec 2007
70
10th
As much as I love Lynch, this one was just a little too slow for me. I will try it again, though.
Rated 12 Jan 2008
80
60th
One of those films you never forget. A real study of the human condition. Touching and well acted with some great costume and scenery and real attention to detail. A brilliant film.
Rated 17 Mar 2022
80
74th
The film, like its protagonist, may sometimes be hard to watch, but reveals a sweet and very human core.
Rated 16 Jan 2016
86
34th
A good movie, great acting but I think Linch made this movie a little boring, on purpose. But again, it is a good movie supported with good music.
Rated 03 Jan 2020
88
47th
Bazı insanlar için etkileyici olan aslında tam bir film olan bir film.
Rated 15 May 2008
85
72nd
Great movei
Rated 13 Jun 2008
85
95th
Very Great
Rated 17 Jun 2008
30
2nd
I found the entire exercise to be excessively manipulative towards the viewer.
Rated 03 Jan 2022
6
46th
Much of the third act is striking with so many vivid and imaginative scenes you won't see in any other Oscar bait picture. But really outside of those that's what it is, and a ultimately pedestrian one at that. The story of Joseph Merrick was surely one of intense suffering and I don't think this came particularly close to earning its relatively happy ending.
Rated 26 Sep 2013
84
81st
A movie that is intended not only for watching, but mostly for "feeling". The storyline is coherent, depictive and yet a viewer cares mostly about feelings, not facts. It's a very good thing that the real life events shown here shaped this movie just like it is and not turned it into some cash-generating project. I like how the story concentrates on the better part of his life. Better, but still very tragic. Settings and acting are both remarkable. This movie is like ancient Greece's katharsis.
Rated 28 Jul 2008
84
48th
Very sad and emotional film.
Rated 06 Jan 2021
7
61st
Joseph Merrick was a young English man with a scary deformity, a surgeon took him under his wing and saw that he would stop living as a circus freak and instead enjoy a cultivated life. It's an interesting story but gets kinda overly sentimental.
Rated 04 Jan 2018
80
90th
Very moving. Had me choked up a few times and on the verge of tears. Amazing what David Lynch can accomplish when he attempts to make a coherent narrative. I was ready to write him off after "Eraserhead".
Rated 22 Aug 2019
70
50th
Probably David Lynch's most straightforward film. It's a bio-pic that's a step above the average bio-pic.
Rated 10 Jan 2011
90
92nd
David Lynch's only real commercial film and still has all of his style.
Rated 13 Nov 2008
4
56th
Manipulative and badly written drivel saved by great performances. Lynch is so hit-and-miss with me, I never know what to expect. [see---- Enigma of Kasper Hauser for a better variation on the same basic story]
Rated 18 Nov 2008
60
72nd
Always intriguing.
Rated 15 Nov 2014
79
87th
This would have been such a cheaply manipulative film in less capable hands. The talents of Lynch, Hurt, and Hopkins combine for a truly touching film, and all of the emotion is earned. Merrick's story is as interesting as it is heartwrenching. Very impressive.
Rated 12 Sep 2012
70
54th
while I guess its extremely well done and very tragic and emotive, it didnt really make me feel anything except for disgust for his face and voice. most of the time I spent waiting for it to end, in fact.
Rated 09 Jan 2011
90
90th
Here's a story that could have easily become heavy-handed and manipulative in the hands of most filmmakers, so we should all be grateful that David Lynch was the one behind the script and camera. Lynch guides us from carnal skepticism to loving empathy, forcing us all to look in the mirror. The most telling evidence of this film's magic is that I had avoided watching it for so long because I didn't think I could watch a film that featured such a deformed man. Clearly, it was I who was deformed.
Rated 26 Jan 2009
65
30th
Overrated (maybe because I knew the story), but some good scenes, like the intro.
Rated 28 Jan 2009
93
90th
will make you weep.
Rated 19 Dec 2020
90
91st
Together with Straight Story the most normal film of Lynch. The few surreal scenes remind us who the director is.
Rated 11 Jul 2012
77
70th
Not as much "Lynch" as I was hoping for, but the movie is pretty damn good anyway.
Rated 18 Jul 2011
91
78th
David Lynch's relatively straight second feature finds an admirable synthesis of compassion and restraint in treating its subject, and features outstanding performances by John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins.
Rated 15 Mar 2009
71
63rd
Though it has its flaws, this film is a fascinating and heartbreaking study. John Hurt is magnificent in the title role.
Rated 23 Mar 2009
88
85th
Lynch crafts a haunting, heartrending, elegiac biography of the hideously deformed but bright and kindly title character. Hurt gives an amazing performance under a ton of makeup. _Elephant Boy_ is *not* a prequel.
Rated 04 Apr 2009
86
87th
sure at the base of it, the story is just a tearjerker, and in the hands of other hollywood directors it could've been a mediocre melodrama. the fact that it's such a striking and beautiful work is mostly credit to lynch. also, great stuff from anthony hopkins and john hurt
Rated 11 Oct 2014
91
96th
Hurt and Hopkins are amazing, and Lynch draws every last drop of emotion out of it. The nightmarish Victorian atmosphere obviously draws heavily from his work on Eraserhead.
Rated 08 Jul 2011
99
99th
A gripping emotional story, very well acted and directed. It's not very Lynchian but you can still see his mark on it. Just wow, a brilliant piece of cinema.
Rated 06 Jun 2009
100
98th
We are all very ugly compared to John Merrick.
Rated 17 Sep 2014
48
63rd
There is a kind of ontological richness in the simultaneous perfect '50s b-movie [Lynch, hello] aesthetic of Hurt's makeup and that it seems really quite authentic to the existing photos of Merrick [apparently his biography here is pretty unembellished overall]. As a drama, it feels like a Truffaut or Fellini. That said, didn't find this that affecting, tbh-- wasn't completely knocked out, much less, like w/ Herzog's humanistic piece on another historical social outcast ["Kaspar Hauser"].
Rated 09 Jun 2011
100
97th
Another viewing confirmed this is a masterpiece.
Rated 06 Oct 2009
95
99th
"I am not an animal! I am a human being!" I defy anyone to watch this movie and not cry - it simply cannot be done. An exploration of humanity that is profound and touching - and as one can expect from Lynch - a technical marvel.
Rated 10 Oct 2009
75
47th
Classic depection of the life of the elephant man. simply moving drama
Rated 10 Nov 2009
83
95th
Tragic story, yet at the same time very uplifting....Hurt does most of his acting through his eyes because of the mask, but still a magical performance.
Rated 27 Jun 2012
95
94th
Very emotional, heartbreaking movie. Great acting.
Rated 26 Mar 2010
85
50th
Sad and disturbing, but it is amazing.
Rated 23 Jun 2010
60
60th
Pros: Great cinematography, a memorable soundtrack, an interesting premise, and a good performance by Hopkins. Cons: A dreadfully slow pace which is exacerbated by a plot so predictable you can probably guess it all from a brief summary. It breaks just above even in my books.

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