The Elephant Man

Theatrical Release: October 10, 1980
DVD Release: December 11, 2001
The Elephant Man


Based on the true story of Joseph Merrick, a 19th-century Englishman afflicted with a disfiguring congenital disease. With the help of kindly Dr. Frederick Treves, Merrick attempts to regain the dignity he lost after years spent as a side-show freak.

Dove Review

Wow! This is based on the true story of Joseph Merrick, who lived in the nineteenth century, and this film is so well done that the viewer can’t help but be moved. The acting is top rate, as is the direction, and it was a good decision to film this movie in black and white as it lends a dark mood which is appropriate. The viewer may get angry at the parts which show John Merrick being mistreated, but the scenes in which Dr. Treves (Anthony Hopkins) and an actress named Mrs. Kendal (Anne Bancroft) show him kindness and help bring him out of his shell are riveting.

The cast shines in this film and John Hurt was the perfect choice to play Merrick. Dame Wendy Hiller also gives a powerful performance. We recommend this film for ages twelve and above as it does have some strong scenes in it, such as when some drunken sots come to Merrick’s room to look at him for their amusement, and a man shows sensuality with the women who are in the group. There is some mild language as well. This is a story adults and children over the age of twelve won’t forget.

The scene in which Bancroft’s character does lines with Merrick from “Romeo and Juliet,” and then tells him he is not an Elephant Man, but Romeo, is very moving and well done. This is a must-see film.

Content Description

Faith: None
Violence: Merrick is attacked on more than one occasion.
Sex: A drunk licks the necks of women. He kisses them deeply and forces women to kiss Merrick.
Language: D-1; B-2
Violence: Merrick is attacked on more than one occasion.
Drugs: Drinking and smoking; liquor is forced in Merrick's mouth.
Nudity: None
Other: None


Company: Paramount
Writer: Sir Frederick Treves and Ashley Montagu
Director: David Lynch
Producer: Jonathan Sanger
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 124 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter