Starring John Hurt in the role of John Merrick, with an extremely strong supporting cast, The Elephant Man was nominated for eight Academy Awards.
Although it didn’t manage to win a single one (it was a very strong year) the film transcends the prejudices of a set of film industry insiders. It is brilliantly shot in black and white by director David Lynch. A real case of less is more.
You will no doubt be aware of the story. A deformed Victorian man, Merrick is a virtual slave to Freddie Jones’s Bytes the carnival barker, in his way equally grotesque. Fortunately, he is rescued by Anthony Hopkins’s character Frederick Treves, a London surgeon. It is intended that he will be cared for indefinitely – even Queen Victoria has become involved.
However, Merrick is recaptured by Bytes and taken to Europe before escaping and returning to the care of the hospital. Following his attendance at an evening of Musical theatre, Merrick returns again to his rooms in the hospital where he dies peacefully, consoled by a vision of his dead mother.