The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man is a 1980 British-American biographical drama film about Joseph Merrick (John Merrick in the film), a severely deformed man in late 19th-century London. The film was directed by David Lynch, produced by Mel Brooks (who was uncredited, to avoid audiences anticipating the film being in the vein of his comedic works, although his company Brooksfilms is in the opening credits) and Jonathan Sanger, and stars John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Michael Elphick, Hannah Gordon and Freddie Jones. The Elephant Man is generally regarded as one of Lynch's more accessible and mainstream works, alongside The Straight Story (1999).


Frederick Treves, a surgeon at the London Hospital, finds John Merrick in a Victorian freak show in London's East End, where he is kept by Mr. Bytes, the brutish ringmaster. His head is kept hooded, and his "owner", who views him as intellectually disabled, is paid by Treves to bring him to the hospital for examination. Treves presents Merrick to his colleagues and highlights his deformed skull, which forces him to sleep with his head on his knees, since if he were to lie down, he would asphyxiate. On Merrick's return, he is beaten so badly by Bytes that he has to call Treves for medical help. Treves brings him back to the hospital.