Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Elephant Man

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Elephant Man - 4 out of 5

With much chagrin from some of my friends, I am a fan of David Lynch's films.  Some friends have had interventions in order to stop my enjoyment of the man's unique and twisted visions and one even went as far to subject me to waterboarding and torture to get me to renounce my belief that Eraserhead is a good movie.  Sure, Lynch does stuff I can't stand like Dune, Blue Velvet and Mullholland Dr. but for every one of those, he does a Twin Peaks and this particular movie.

Okay, you can hate his movies but you can't hate that hair!

The Elephant Man was Lynch's first studio film and, when compared to the rest of his career, the tamest film he's ever made.  If you know Lynch's work, you know the man has a...unique eye (and that's putting it mildly).  To this day, no one has been able to properly dissect and give the film's inner meaning to the Lynch film that can cause an acid flashback even if you've never had a hallucinogen; Eraserhead.  However, that film did get Lynch noticed by famed funnyman and producer of The Elephant Man; Mel Brooks.  That's right, Mel Brooks produced the movie about Joseph Merrick and after seeing Eraserhead, brought Lynch in to direct.  However, you'll never see Brooks' name in the credits as he went uncredited because of how people see his name and automatically assume comedy.

Yes, the same man who gave us Blazing Saddles produced The Elephant Man.
You learn something new (and awesome) everyday.

If you don't know the movie, chances are good you already know the famous line, "I am not an animal, I am a human being!"  Joseph Merrick, the infamous Elephant Man, was a severely deformed man from the late 1800s who became a person of scientific interest due to his medical condition.  The man also inspired the amazing progressive metal band Mastodon to do some songs that were inspired by him.  The screenplay for this film was based on two books about the man including one writing by the person who spent the most time studying Merrick and was played by Anthony Hopkins; Dr. Frederick Treves.  The film follows this doctor and how he comes to find Merrick (called John Merrick due to the fact that Dr. Treves, in his memoirs, changed Merrick's name and ended up causing the historic faux pas of getting the man's name wrong).  Merrick becomes an object of interest in the doctor and an object of horror to others as he tries to get Merrick out of the circus sideshows and into civilized life.

Mastodon's Joseph Merrick, a killer instrumental inspired by the Elephant Man himself...

Say what you will about Merrick's deformities but the man can rock a suit.

The usual Lynch-ism common in a David Lynch films are few and far between within this one, with the exception of the film's opening and ending--that's the scenes that may make you start tripping balls...elephant balls.  The combination of Lynch's restraint as a director and the stellar performance from John Hurt as Joseph "John" Merrick makes the film both interesting and sentimental as you watch the torture that Merrick had to endure from people who either didn't care about his condition or were too uneducated or of too low of class to care about it.  Not to mention it becomes incredibly easy to sympathize with the Merrick character when you realize that it took John Hurt nearly 8 hours to be put into the Elephant Man makeup and then had to try and act under all that latex and goop.

I think all of Hopkins roles should require the wearing of a top hat.

It's been a long time since I've watched this one and although I have some friends who are probably standing by waiting to torture me for watching this one again, I have to say it holds up.  Even if you're not a Lynch fan, you can watch this without fear that it'll freak you out or you'll end up being the only one in the room who doesn't get it like that time you watched the backwards talking little person scene from Twin Peaks.  The story of Merrick is a bittersweet one that tells a timeless story that is just as emotionally powerful to watch now, as it was in 1980.

2 comments:

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    1. I liked Dennis Hooper in it but just couldn't get into the film.

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