Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Film Review: Elephant Man

The sixth film we watched from the ‘Shapeshifters’ film programme was David Lynch’s ‘The Elephant Man’ which was released in 1980.

This film looks more a human deformity than it does at the transformation of man into some form of other being:

"Based upon the true story of the horrendously deformed John Merrick..." 

Lynch doesn't look at physical change due to certain circumstances in this film but bases his ideas on a real story, about a horribly deformed man. He looks at what this man was born with, as if the deformity that he has suffered all his life is a form of metamorphosis itself and the idea of it being undone is impossible. 

Society would suggest that with this deformity would come a reaction of great disgust and intolerance, however this film opposes these typical assumptions. Lynch explores the man behind the deformities, behind the 'mask' that provides Merrick with the name the Elephant Man and explores his human nature, his kindness, love and innocence that society would naturally assume does not exist:

"A tender, touching scene ('Oh, Mr Merrick, you're not an elephant man at all. No, you're Romeo')..."

Sophistication is another one of Merrick's traits which is initially looked over. Society in the time period the film was set in would dictate that someone of Merrick's status has no knowledge of how to be sophisticated, just based on his appearance, yet "...John Merrick learns to move in society, to have ladies in to tea, to attend the theater, and to build a scale model of a cathedral." It was a typical assumption that if you weren't beautiful or rich in these times that you would never progress in society yet Merrick was neither and still progressed.

Quote sources
Quote 1 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/05/24/the_elephant_man_1980_review.shtml
Quote 2 - http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/63796/the_elephant_man.html
Quote 3 - http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19800101/REVIEWS/1010313

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