Iconoclastic director David Lynch managed to meld his surrealistic style beautifully with the aesthetics of gothic horror in this heartbreaking, stylish and affecting film. Set in 1886, Anthony Hopkins plays Frederick Treves a London surgeon who stumbles upon a remarkably disfigured man, John Merrick (John Hurt), who is being cruelly put forward as entertainment at a freak show in the East End. Based on real life events, the film follows Treves taking Merrick, ‘The Elephant Man’, under his wing after he’s badly abused by his carnival owner. Despite controversy about first admitting him as a live-in patient, Merrick eventually settles in at the Royal London Hospital. Yet while Treves’s interest in Merrick are far more noble-hearted and altruistic, questions about whether his presentation of this specimen for study by fellow medical professors remain.
★★★★★ “Four decades on, John Hurt’s performance gives this biopic a poignancy that marks it apart from the rest of director’s work” — The Guardian