The First Film
1. The Elephant Man
Directed by: David Lynch
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John hurt, Anne Bancroft
Genre: Biography | Drama
Based on: The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences by Frederick Treves and in part on The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by Ashley Montague
Initial Release: October 10, 1980
You are disgusted and yet equally melt at the sight of the poor Elephant Man, a severely deformed human who resembles an elephant and is owned and marketed as a freak before and even slightly after his captivity, or should we say his nightmare ends. He is rustic and hideous to look at, yet has the softness and sophistication of a man who has an elephant’s heart. That is why when love and acceptance finally reach out to him, you see the raw unabashed sentimentality that the director evokes out in those scenes, and when calamitously he is pushed to the edge of his sanity, your heart pours out when he unwraps himself of his brutality and speaks out to the preying world:”I am not an animal, I am a human being, I…Am…a MAN!
The Elephant Man is the second directorial feature and, though I want to resist the urge but, a relatively straight one from the postmodern Surrealist master David Lynch. To put in perspective, die hard Lynch fans will see this as someone with a PhD. in Metaphysics took up time to teach division to 3rd grade kids. His films are more complicated than Bermuda Triangle, MH-370A and Rahul Gandhi; combined! But such is the treatment of the subject, where we are badgeringly reminded that how simple human virtues of love, compassion and dignity is what this entire world requires.
You see John Merrick (John Hurt) a.k.a. The Elephant Man revealing how he must have been a disappointment to his mother and that if he can only meet her once, when he breaks down on being treated gently by a woman and how he vividly builds a chapel as his deformity sanctions him against public appearances.Lynch shows the depth and vividness of human bonds and natures through Merrick’s character and Dr. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) tenderness, his self-dilemma on Merrick but somehow, jumps to the conclusion part a tad-bit soon and also somehow fails the highlight the bigger picture as to what theme does he actually wants to touch or ripple through this project related to being human and humanity in large. You keep asking this and it only draws blanks. But the performances from the two leads are in itself so overwhelming with a restraint treatment to its subject that it becomes a part of the group that I refer to as the necessary cinema.
John Merrick cannot sleep like normal humans on a bed due to his deformity, so the only desire that he has from life is to be able to sleep peacefully, even if for a day, and when his purpose of life is fulfilled by the friendships, compassion and dignity that he deserves, he sleeps himself to the stars, highlighting the power of love in this first cog of the Troika.
By: Pranshu Sharma