Cast: Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Frederrick Treves), John Hurt (John Merrick), Anne Bancroft ( Mrs. Madge Kendal), John Gielgud (Carr Gomm), Hannah Gorgdon ( Mrs. Treves)
Elephant man is a touching story based on true facts about a disfigured Londoner, John Merrick. Throughout his whole life being treated like an animal, being part of a freak show, John gets rescued by Dr. Frederrick Trevers, who shows him the beauty of a normal life, friendship and freedom.
This is a very touching film that reveals the intelligence and sensitivity behind the very physically disfigured John Merrick. John gets discovered by Dr. Treves at a local freak- show, where he's been treated worse than an animal, being beaten and kept in the basement. .
The scene that really got me in the film was when Dr. Treves goes down to the basement and is the only person to view John. Just after Gomm's introduction to the freak show after seeing Elephant man's face, you can see the tears slowely appearing on doctor's face, from that point we know that he feels sorrow for the disfigured human, and straight away we know he's a good character, even though still having small doubts after he examins him and presents him in front of his medical class.
Tears going down Dr. Treves cheek after seeing John Merrick for the first time.
Just like in the fly, we dont get to see John's face till later on in the film, he just gets presented to the audience with a bag on his head, while heading up to the hospital. Gives us an impression that it's better to raise people's curiocity rather than show his actual face, which could cause panic or disgust.
'He's a clumsy soul, never looks where he's going. Good he's got me to look after him' said Carr Gomm to the Doctor to explain John's injuries right after beating him badly because he followed Treves to the hospital to be examined. Yet again this is a good example of how inhumanly people treat other humans, in this case because of disfiguration...
All the way throughout the film we see the ammount of misery John has to go through, from being treated like a thing to being laughed at, and scared of. We can see clearly though that he's just as scared as the people running away from him screaming.'Its like talking to a brick wall. Obviously sir, what can you do for him?' People not only feel awkward by his appearance but also treat him like he can't understand what they're saying or feel the same emotions as they do, see him in a form of ' easy money' .
We find out that John is able to speak, he's just frightened of people's reactions and noone in his life never asked him for his opinion on anything. All the decisions always have been made for him 'I want my man back' reffering to a human being like some sort of property or an investment. This is a film about someone that never in his life been treated like a human, someone that recognizes beauty, has feeling, person of a high intelligence that just had to bottle it down all his life. 'You just wanted a freak, so I gave you a freak. Now I want him back!'. Gomm is jugding people by his own level of his own selfishness....
As the audience we can sense the awkwardness created while the nurses enter John's room. They're afraid to talk or look at him, we can also see that all John wants is what any person desires which is acceptance and human contact.
'His appearance is so terrible that women and nervous persons run off in terror...'
Its not until Mrs. Treves, John never been able to speak to a woman. This was another scene that really caught my attention, as an audience we were prepared to see mrs Treves to react exactly the same as the other women that been in the film (scream and run). On the other hand though, she walks up to him, shakes his hand and welcomes John to their home. We can see in her eyes that she was shocked by the disfigurement but she managed to get over those emotions and accept him as a human being. Just like the audience, John is shocked and nearly breaks into tears 'I'm not used to be treated so well by such a beatifull woman' . We learn that John is a gentleman, which all he wants is acceptance.
At this point of the film we learn John's love for beauty, nature and the poetry. At first I realized this at the beggining of the movie when we find him in doctor's office looking at the birds. Now we learn about his love to poetry and art. John likes showing people photographs of his mother, who also is a beatifull woman, he reffers to her that 'she has face of an angel'.
John's only photograph of his mother.
We learn about John's sensitive side. He loves art, human cmpany and acception. Throughout the film I've noticed the big resemblance to the 'La Belle et la Bete'. Both of thse characters may be deformed on the outside, frightening the public, but deep inside all they want is love and acception. In this film we learn the same message, which is that most people are more monstreous than any of these 'freaks' they're just able to disguise it on the inside. Even Mrs. Madge Kendal says to John ''You're not an elephant man at all. You're Romeo'
After the creepy guard appears through the window we enter a similar scene to the one we see at the beginning of the film.
Mrs Kendal and John Merrick, right before she kisses him on the cheek after reffering to him as Romeo
After the creepy guard appears through the window we enter another surreal scene, similar to the one we see at the beggining of the film. There are elephant noises in the background, laughter and panic. This resembles a lot a scene we see later on where the guard lets people into John's room when they all make fun of him, just like a part of a freak show. After John gets kidnapped by Carr Gomm to go back to his old life, just after he finally finds a new 'home'. As an explanation for the freak show the guard explain himself ''People pay money to see your monster, I collect it' doctor Treves reffers to him as the monster. Yet again we notice the theme that was in the Beauty and the Beast where a monster is not what we see, but what person feels on the inside.
After we see John going back into the freak show, as the audience I noticed that he looses the will to live. People don't find him an exciting attraction anymore as they can see that he's in pain and in a verge of dying. He gets help from the other 'freaks' to get out of that hell. We get into another effective scene where after being chased by people at the tune, John gets cornered shouting 'I'n not an animal, I am a human being!!!!'
The film ends in a beatifull scene when John goes into the theatre for the first time. Beatifull editing done by the director, and at the end we see John stand up, and for the first time people are applausing for him, not at him....
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