The Elephant Man (1980)
"I am not an animal! I am a human being! I...am...a man!"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.
One of the greatest films, but so little appreciated
I first saw The Elephant Man at its pre-release showing in 1980, and it
struck an immediate and resonant chord with me. Few movies are like this,
and it remains (many viewings later) one of my top 10 films of all
The plot is presented well in other reviews here, so I will not repeat it
comment further. Of the film itself I would only add that it is without
doubt the most mature and satisfying of David Lynch's works - in many ways
it is the final, polished jewel carved from the rough and ugly (but
fascinating) diamond of Eraserhead, with the self-conscious artiness and
juvenile qualities of the earlier film distilled into a potent and poignant
statement on the human condition.
Some critics have dismissed The Elephant Man as an exercise in emotional
manipulation, however I believe this completely misses the point. All
are manipulative to some degree, but it is a manipulation in which we as an
audience engage by consent. The Elephant Man will stand the final test and
it will be appreciated fully by future audiences, in much the same way as
Citizen Kane had to wait for some decades until audiences were able to
fully comprehend its greatness.