You could only see his eyes behind the layers of makeup in The Elephant Man but those expressive orbs earned John Hurt a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his moving portrayal of John Merrick, the grotesquely deformed Victorian 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 and offers him an existence with dignity. Anne Bancroft co-stars 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 co-writer of this sombre 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 ceremony empty-handed, its dramatic power and handsome yet haunting imagery remain just as strong today. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com On the DVD: Being black and white, it's easier to judge the digital transfer in terms of shade and thankfully this print looks just fine. There's a little confusion over the sound, however, which is advertised as Stereo on the box but says Mono on the Audio Menu. It certainly seems to be a basic Dolby stereo but it's a shame Lynch hasn't given it the personal touch since he's obsessed with mixing his films' sound himself. From the nicely thought-out animated menus there's a gallery of 20 photos and a misguiding, dramatic theatrical trailer. The only other extra is a 64-page book of which only 10 pages relate directly to the film (the rest re-tell Lynch's career and the real Elephant Man's life). --Paul Tonks [show more]
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