★★★★½ A beautiful film, if oddly beautiful at that. The make-up and acting in the film are the real stars of the show, with both Anthony Hopkins and John hurt really bringing their best to the table. I see now why this is considered a classic, beautiful and heartbreaking throughout.
This is the type of movie that people seem to love for its supposed feel-good content. Joseph Merrick is shown as someone suffering from a brutal physical condition but what does this all mean in the end? Are we supposed to leave the film feeling sorry for this 19th-century man? What we are left with is a saccharine attempt to create a biographical film that tells us nothing about this man and his actual condition.
A beautiful film that excels in every department, with special mention to the sound design led by master Alan Splet and David Lynch himself, whose dense, multilayered and deeply evocative soundscapes are matched perfectly by the images on screen. I quite honestly say that Lynch lost an essential collaborator with the passing of Splet in 1994.
The makeup, cinematography, performances, discretion, and story are emotionally powerful, expertly crafted, and have so much care it hurts watching. You feel bad for the main leads, and want to see them succeed. It has common Lynchian tropes, but nothing too hard for viewers to know. The plot itself may not be the most cohesive or strong, but it wears its heart on its sleeve, and to me that’s all that matters.
A wonderfully moving historical drama that evokes the Gothic heart of Victorian England while examining otherness in a very late 20th century manner. Outstanding performances, editing and cinematography make this a memorable experience. It always moves me to tears - and I love it for that.
Lynch = perfect director, he humbly explains the genesis of the film here https://youtu.be/O6AoMU7Tsfs. I wish they had kept exactly to the facts of Merrick's life, 'actress Madge Kendal probably never met [Merrick] in person' (Wikipedia), was there a nasty night porter like Jim? Was the real life Mr. Bytes (showman Tom Norman) just as cruel? Did the lower classes treat Merrick worse than the upper classes? Classist?
This is a rewatch. Historically speaking, THE ELEPHANT MAN had a lot of inaccuracies in its plot. But this is a movie. You can do whatever you want. David Lynch and friends understand this. So, they make it as EMOTIONAL as can be. You know what? They did it BEAUTIFULLY. Lynch - known for his surreal style - was able to give an emotional punch with his solid, yet stylistic direction. Damn it... I almost shed a tear...
It's deeply empathetic and moving, showcasing how art and the pureness of spirit persevere in the midst of a progressively dehumanized society. The way it deconstructs the hatred John Merrick suffers in regards to the different social classes felt like it was a totally unexpected angle to approach this from, but it really does add to the sinister tides underlying the more sentimental notes Lynch ends up playing with.