Directed by David Lynch and starring John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft and John Gielgud, The Elephant Man is a 1980 film which depicts the real-life of Joseph Merrick, a man suffering from immense deformities who lived in late 19th Century London.
As a historical drama, this film does an excellent job of depicting the scenes of 19th Century London. Filmed in monochrome, it effectively intensifies the bleak emotion both characters and viewers inevitably feel throughout as Merrick’s devastating life story unfolds.
When watching, it’s easy to fill like you’re transported back into Victorian-era Britain. The savage treatment of Merrick is made more heartbreaking with Hurt’s incredible acting, where his character is entirely believable. Viewers watch as he struggles through learning to speak and interact with others without causing himself or others distress, and it is simultaneously beautiful and tragic.
The Elephant Man brings out the best in its featured actors. Hopkins’ caring presence, coupled with Hurt’s believable traits, make for a 2+ hour roller coaster of emotions. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll feel warmth, and you’ll feel tense.
If you have still not watched The Elephant Man, 40 years after its release, you need to change that.
Watch the trailer for The Elephant Man below: