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"The Elephant Man" - (UK Import) - {Blu-Ray}
Reviewer:
Taylor Carlson
Studio: StudioCanal
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
2009
Special Features:

Joseph Merrick: The Real Life Elephant Man, Interviews with Cast and Crew

Review:

The Elephant Man is directed by David Lynch and stars John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, and Anne Bancroft. The musical score is composed by John Morris, and the film was produced by an uncredited Mel Brooks. ***

The Elephant Man is based on the true story of Joseph Merrick (Hurt) (called John Merrick in the movie), a freak who is condemned to life in a circus and billed as the Elephant Man to his abnormal facial deformities. Eventually, he is taken in by a kindhearted doctor (Hopkins) who discovers that Merrick is actually quite intelligent and a gentle, loving person despite his grotesque features. Eventually, the once-skeptical public is enraptured by Merrick, including an acclaimed theater actress (Bancroft.) But will he ever be able to live a normal life? ***

The Elephant Man is based on true events and the life of Joseph Merrick, however the historical accuracy in the film has come under fire from a number of sources over the years, questioning the occurrence of many scenes/depictions of certain characters/etc. However, the film delivers its message, and delivers it well - so I can certainly forgive any inaccuracies or dramatic changes. ***

The history being the making of The Elephant Man is almost as interesting is Merrick's story itself. Mel Brooks had wanted to make a dramatic film on the subject for years - but obviously couldn't do one under his own name - as people seeing something reading “Mel Brooks Presents The Elephant Man” would come in expecting a comedy - which the film was certainly not. To counteract this, Brooks did not accept credit as producer, but established a separate company called Brooksfilms, which has since produced a number of dramatic films (as well as some Brooks comedies that came after.) Brooks offered Lynch the opportunity to direct after being impressed with Lynch's cult-classic directorial debut, Eraserhead. ***

The film contains a powerful message and hits a number of dramatic high-notes. Throughout the movie, we feel for Merrick and sympathize with him. John Hurt, covered in prosthetics, brings life to the Elephant Man. Anthony Hopkins as superb as a good-natured doctor who wants to help Merrick in any way he possibly can (hard to believe this nice guy would later play the villainous Hannibal Lecter!), and Anne Bancroft gives a nice performance as highly-revered stage actress who is admired by many, including Merrick. An interesting piece of trivia - Bancroft WAS a stage actress in real life before going into the world of cinema. She was also married to Mel Brooks at the time the film was release. ***

The Elephant Man is a powerful film in so many ways, but it must be seen to appreciated. Once you have seen it, the gorgeous black and white cinematography depicting 19th century England stays embedded in your mind forever. It isn't the greatest film ever made, but it has a powerful statement to make, and the cast and crew get that statement across beautifully. ---

Image And Sound:

I'll cut right to the chase - The Elephant Man is not a movie that is ever going to wow visually, not even in HD. This Blu-Ray Disc is, in all ways, a step up from older SD discs, no questions asked. Detail and contrast and stronger than ever before. However, the softness throughout (some of which can be attributed to the filming style) is going to disappoint people who want a picture-perfect presentation. Some print damage and dirt and still visible, meaning this was most likely made from the same master the DVD was stricken from. The grain structure is intact, meaning no annoying enhancements have been applied. As a whole, though, the good outweighs the bad, and it is still the best Lynch's classic film has looked in any home video release.

Special Features:

Several interviews (mostly with Hurt and Lynch) appear on the disc. There is also a documentary on the real-life Joseph Merrick, which fans of the film will definitely want to sit down and watch.

Final Words:

The Elephant Man is a great film. There isn't enough David Lynch on Blu-Ray, so do yourself a favor and import this disc. If you are a fan of the movie, I doubt you will be disappointed!

 

 
 
 
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