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The Elephant Man Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Sean Axmaker

You could only see his eyes behind the layers of makeup, but those expressive orbs earned John Hurt a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his moving portrayal of John Merrick, the grotesquely deformed Victorian-era man better known as The Elephant Man. Inarticulate and abused, Merrick is the virtual slave of a carnival barker (Freddie Jones) until dedicated London doctor Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins in a powerfully understated performance) rescues him from the life and offers him an existence with dignity. Anne Bancroft costars as the actress whose visit to Merrick makes him a social curiosity, with John Gielgud and Wendy Hiller as dubious hospital staffers won over by Merrick. David Lynch earned his only Oscar nominations as director and cowriter of this somber drama, which he shot in a rich black-and-white palette, a sometimes stark, sometimes dreamy visual style that at times recalls the offbeat expressionism of his first film, Eraserhead. It remains a perfect marriage between traditional Hollywood historical drama and Lynch's unique cinematic eye, a compassionate human tale delivered in a gothic vein. The film earned eight Oscar nominations in all, and though it left the Oscar race empty-handed, its dramatic power and handsome yet haunting imagery remain just as strong today. 

Academy Awards

Elephant Man was nominated for Academy Award for for Best Picture (Jonathan Sanger - Producer), Actor (John Hurt), Directing (David Lynch), Writing (Best Screenplay based on material from another medium; Christopher DeVore, Eric Bergren, David Lynch), Art Direction/Set Decoration (Stuart Craig - Art Direction, Bob Cartwright - Art Direction, Hugh Scaife - Set Decoration), Costume Design (Patricia Norris), and Film Editing (Anne V. Coates), Music Scoring Awards (Best Original Score; John Morris).


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"I have pretty much hated everything David Lynch has done, with the exception of Elephant Man. Visually stunning, the movie captures a totally unique atmosphere which conjures up the right emotions before the story has even begun. John Hurt turns in a fine performance and Anthony Hopkins is superb. In fact, a sterling cast all round. One particular scene, and it wasn't the final one, made me cry - and I mean sob - from a place deep within which has never before or since been touched by film. I think this film is a masterpiece in the true sense of the word. Although it is a dark and depressing affair, it does manage to leave you with a crack of light. Heavy on the heart."

--Tracy Francis



Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: David Lynch

Stars: Sir Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones, Michael Elphick, Patricia Hodge

Released: October 3, 1980

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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