Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Elephant Man (1980)

The Elephant Man is a drama film based on the story of Joseph Merrick (called John Merrick in the film), a severely deformed man in 19th century London. The film was directed by David Lynch. The screenplay was adapted by Lynch, Christopher De Vore, and Eric Bergren from the books The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences (1923) by Sir Frederick Treves and The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by Ashley Montagu. It was shot in black-and-white. Between the surreal dystopia of Eraserhead and the artistic immobility of Dune, and before critics labeled him as the auteur of Weird America with permanent marker, David Lynch directed this strange but true story set in London, England during the late 1800’s. Being one of only two films of his to be based on fact it is far less of a personal work than those generated by the director himself. Despite his sensibilities being contained in a more formal framework his unique aural and visual style (like the sound of blowing wind or the peculiar emphasis of the industrial machinery of the period)clearly comes across, although it’s a far cry from the narrative conundrums that comprise Eraserhead, Lost Highway, or Mulholland Dr.

The Elephant Man was recognized as a critical and commercial success, and received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture in 1981.

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