The Elephant Man (1980) Review


Fredrick Treves is a Victorian surgeon and he wants to rescue a man who has been mistreated and in side show freak act named the Elephant Man due to his heavily disfigured features. John Merrick as it turns out is rather intelligent and very sensitive.


The story and therefore film is heartbreaking that because someone looks different that they are treated so horribly. We cannot all look the same and I think to this day we can still learn a hell of a lot from this, underneath all of our looks and exterior could be a horrible person or a lovely person. You do not actually know what someone is like until you actually speak and communicate with them.

John Hurt is incredible in the leading role as Merrick and equally as good is Hopkins as Treves, they really do form a fantastic duo who make you really think about how cruel humans really can be. It was so amazing to see him saved and taken away from being a freak show, but then horrible things still keep happening. I really hated the scene in which the man made people pay him and they were doing all sorts to Merrick. I actually did not want to watch anymore as it was so cruel and sad!

I thought when he started speaking and some people were actually nice to him was nice to see. Having Merrick actually get emotional the first time a woman did not scream when she saw him was certainly a defining moment for the story. Showing that people can be compassionate and kind towards others, wanting to know them before making any judgement.

I certainly think this film has a place to be shown in schools to children, well more teenagers to make a point about bullying and how treating someone differently because of how they look is very wrong. I think it could still have a lot of power to help combat against the horrible behaviour we get from some in the younger generations.

I have had this on DVD for a long time now and thought that a perfect tribute to watch it was the passing of John  Hurt. I had previously seen the play in the West End after it transferred from Broadway which takes a slightly different approach to the story. I thought the film was very well made and can understand why it was nominated for Best Picture, a well acted drama based on the life of a real man.

One of the most shocking things in the film I felt was that we find out he is 21 years old so he has been subjected to abuse for so many years without anyone fighting for his rights. The fact he becomes friends with Treves is reassuring that in your darkest times someone will come along when you need them the most. Making you wonder how all of his deformities started when you read that he was perfectly normal for the first few years of his life, which I guess means he at least had some happy years at the beginning and the end, as he was only 27 years old when he died.

We can all watch this film and then think about how kind we are to others or do we place our judgement based just on how someone looks! A poignant and very important film.

2 thoughts on “The Elephant Man (1980) Review

  1. Thank u for this Post
    The Elephant Man is 1 of my all-time faves – certainly 1 of th late great Sir John Hurt’s finest performances
    Love th b/w photography – special shout-out to Hannah Gordon as Mrs Treves who lends th film some of Merrick’s more tender moments.
    Who played th titular role in th West End? Famously, th late great David Bowie played Merrick on Broadway sans make-up – wld have loved to have watched that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It wasn’t Bradley Cooper in he production I saw. Interesting as didn’t have any make up on or anything like that. Lumped himself and had his lip down and spoke through the side of his mouth

      Liked by 1 person

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