This week’s film is the Elephant Man which contains John Hurt in one of my favourite performances on film.

THE PLOT

Partially based on true events the film follows a Victorian surgeon (Anthony Hopkins) who rescues a deformed man (John Hurt) from a freak show and teaches him to live with disfigurement. The Elephant Man turns out to be a kind and sensitive man who struggles to find acceptance from society.

THE GOOD

The film is very different to last weeks film in that it is fairly mainstream with very little in the way of Lynch’s typical weirdness (especially in the plot) This is by no means a bad thing however as the film is extremely interesting throughout and a creepiness is created even if the narrative is linear.

Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 10.54.10

The film begins with a surrealist sequence in which an elephant attacks a woman; this sequence can be read in many ways and helps grasp the fact that the film is about ‘the Elephant Man’ (who will not appear on screen for a while).

The film is constantly interesting and raises emotions within the audience regarding how disabilities are treated within society; it is cleverly crafted in that the same events happen but in slightly better circumstances. At the start of the film the Elephant Man is mistreated and laughed at for being a freak; and although later in the film he is not mistreated he is still mocked (by the upper-classes of society), showing that even those who would class themselves as more civilised are not. The phrase once a freak, always a freak is one that is often used when talking about this film and rightly so.

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Being a mainstream film with a fairly big budget, David Lynch was most likely not allowed full creative freedom which is why certain parts of the film seem a little toned down; mostly however the film is magnificently crafted, with the use of black and white adding a true sense of eerie to the film. The make-up and locations are also perfectly co-ordinated to give a real sense of the deformity; this is highlighted in a short kidnap scene when drunk commoners attack the poor Elephant Man.

 

The film also contains John Hurt’s career best performance (until he plays the Doctor in November!). He is truly astounding as the deformed man delivering lines perfectly in a way to bring pure pity upon the man. Every word he slurs out pulls on ones heart-strings making the film an emotional pleasure to watch.

 

THE BAD

My main problem with the film (namely because of the challenge) is that it is not Lynchian enough; the film is too predictable with even the disgusting parts not being overly strange. David Lynch works best when he is allowed to create a Universe full of strange characters and in the film the characters are all too dull particularly Anthony Hopkin’s as the surgeon; who seemingly has no personality.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I love the Elephant Man as a film and it would make my top 50 list; however on a Lynch-scale it is not experimental enough to deserve more than 4 Lynch’s.

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