The Elephant Man

Synopsis: Dr. Frederic Treves (Anthony Hopkins) discovers Joseph (John) Merrick (John Hurt) in a sideshow. Born with a congenital disorder, Merrick uses his disfigurement to earn a living as the "Elephant Man." Treves brings Merrick into his home, discovering that his rough exterior hides a refined soul, and that Merrick can teach the stodgy British upper class of the time a lesson about dignity. Merrick becomes the toast of London and charms a caring actress (Anne Bancroft) before his death at 27.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Production: Paramount
  Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 13 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
124 min



CLOSE-UP of a gold framed miniature portrait of JOHN MERRICK'S

MOTHER (tune or melody over her picture, heartbeat), which

DISSOLVES TO CLOSE-UP of real Mother smiling A shadow comes

over her face. CLOSE-UP of elephant ears, trunks, faces


Dark, heavy feet stomping elephant trumpet, rearing up.

Powerful hit and the Mother falls. Darker. Trunk slides over

Mother's face and breasts and stomach, leaving a moist trail.

MOTHER’S POV of elephant's mouth, eyes, skin. Mother's face

twists and freezes in a blurred snap roll.

BLACK again. Knock, knock sound. Curtain opens to horrified




FADE IN TO steam shooting out of a huge old half-rusted

calliope. The music is very loud and raucous. Moving up and

back we see the black awning entrance to the freak tent,

where FREDERICK TREVES, Resident Surgeon and Lecturer on

anatomy at the London Hospital, is standing with his back to

us observing the posters of the freaks.

Coming along a muddy walkway at the side of the tent is

Treves' wife, ANNE, and their two DAUGHTERS. The shrill over-

whelming music seems to engulf her.

She looks discomfited, vulnerable, and protective of her

daughters. The girls, oblivious to any fear, are finishing

their chocolate sweets.

CLOSE-UP of Treves looking at a poster.

He hears:



Treves turns and looks down to a chocolate-covered face. He

smiles at the children and Anne.

Anne sees the dirty faces and begins cleaning one of them.

The other daughter looks into the freak tent.


Poppa... may we go in there?


Alright... Your turn.

She turns the girl away from the freak tent and begins

cleaning her face.

Her kerchief pulls and distorts the little daughter's face.

Suddenly the girl sees a ring of elephants in the distance.


Oh,look M-ummy! Elephants!


Oh, elephants! We'll go see them.

She stands.


(to Treves)

You won't be long?


I'll join you shortly.

She takes the children off toward the elephants.

Treves watches them go for a moment, then turns and we go

with him into the dark freak tent. He pauses to pay admission

at a small booth, then disappears within.

DARKNESS. We hear what could be the trumpeting of an elephant.

Treves parts the black canvas and enters the main part of

the tent. Off to his left he sees a man wrapped in a black

cape, holding a conch shell aloft and blowing powerfully

into it. The tent is dimly lit with flickering oil lamps.

People mill about through the weaving corridors. To Treves'

right, he sees a sign reading, "The Deadly Fruit of the

Original Sin," over a small, very dark corridor.

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David Lynch

David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American director, screenwriter, visual artist, musician, actor, and author. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed a unique cinematic style. The surreal and, in many cases, violent elements contained within his films have been known to "disturb, offend or mystify" audiences. more…

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Submitted by acronimous on September 21, 2016

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    "The Elephant Man" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 24 Jun 2021. <>.

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