The Elephant man Film Review Essay
The Elephant man Film Review
The Elephant Man’ is an emotional rollercoaster about two men struggling to change the world’s view on physical disabilities. It is a remarkable story that is heart rendering from beginning to end.
‘The Elephant Man’ was released in 1980, after Mel Brooks had fought for years to bring this masterpiece to life. David Lynch, director and John Morris, composer of music teamed up with John Hurt (John Merrick) and Anthony Hopkins (Dr Treeves) managed to make this film bring itself to be nominated for 8 Oscars.
The first time we met ‘The Elephant Man’, he is in the circus and is being repeatedly beaten by his owner, ‘Bytes’. As John was in a very bad condition, Dr Treeves who had heard of and seen John at a previous show asked Bytes, John’s owner, if he could take John to the hospital to try to diagnose him and show his colleagues too. As John was in such bad health Dr Treeves took him from Bytes and put him in an isolation ward in the hospital.
Dr Treeves then tried to introduce John to a new society, but the new richer people treated him in the same way that the poor people who came to stare and laugh at him in the circus.
The Porter of the hospital saw that he could make money out of having John living at the hospital and set out to find people who wanted the ‘scares of their lives’. He then invited them into John’s own room at the hospital and in this violent and disturbing scene, the people abused John.
‘Bytes’ was one of the people who payed to come and see John, he then stole John back and took him away on a circus trip with him. The other ‘Circus freaks’ helped to set John free and get him home to the hospital.
John had become a good friend of the famous actress, Madge Kendall and she organised for him to have a night at the theatre. This was the happiest night of his life. He decided that he wanted to end his life the happiest it could be, and so he slept on his back which was one of his life long dreams even though he knew it would kill him.
The Central characters of ‘The Elephant Man’ are John Merrick, ‘The Elephant man’ himself and Dr Treeves, the kind doctor who saved John from his nasty owner, ‘Bytes’.
John is a caring and appreciative man who is just out to try and make friends with the world. He only wants, throughout the whole film, to be accepted for who he is and not to be judged for what he looks like.
Dr Treeves is a very friendly, sympathetic man. He rescues John and makes sure he is well looked after from when he first meets him until his dieing day. He is intrigued at John’s disease yet he cares for him as though he was a brother.
To be able to appreciate David Lynch’s directorial value, it is necessary to write a close analysis of a scene. The scene I have chosen is the strongest scene were the porter and the others are abusing John.
This scene is a very powerful, heart-wrenching scene. In this scene the hospital porter has offered to take some people in to John’s own room to see him. They go straight into his room and abuse him. John does not think that he should lash out as he thinks this is the way he should be treated as it is how he has been treated his whole life. The porter then takes a mirror and puts it in front of John’s face. This is the first time John has ever seen his own face.
David Lynch uses many different camera angles to get across what is happening. He uses many mid-angel shots to show many peoples facial expressions. This is showing peoples reactions to John and is much quicker than doing a close up on every face in the room. There is a very dramatic close up however when John first sees himself in the mirror.
The music in this scene starts off very slow whilst John is alone in the room, he is dancing to himself, and so the music reflects that. When the porter enters the room the music starts to sound more ‘dangerous’ and then when all the other people come into John’s room the music becomes more circus like. As all of the people are passing John around there is a crescendo to the music as it turns into eerie circus music. When the pour drink on John the music sounds as though he is in a big top, just like when he was with Bytes at the circus. When the porter makes John look at himself the music stops until John screams where the music comes back in.
The Mise-en-scene in this scene is very good. John is dressed as a gentleman before their entrance. He has just received a grooming kit and is using it to groom himself. When the other people come in it is the complete contrast to the happiest time of his life which he is living in. John was showing that he was a ‘true’ gentleman and then these ‘spectators’ come into his own private room and abuse him. The women that come into his room allow some of the men to grow and kiss them which makes them look really cheap and as if they are prostitutes. The use of the mirror to show John what he looks like is very harsh, this is defiantly the low point of his life.
The director tries to show the contrast between the happiest point in his life and the lowest when all of these people come in and abuse him. David Lynch does this very well and so it makes this scene in particular very emotional.
I enjoyed this film very much. It is defiantly a must see film even though there will be no dry eyes in the room.
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