He is not an animal!
What he is, however, is the subject of a very fine piece of filmmaking.
David Lynch’s The Elephant Man is being re-released by Studio Canal to celebrate its 40th Anniversary.
A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of kindness, intelligence and sophistication..
John Hurt plays the title role and stars alongside Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. Surprisingly enough the film was executive produced by comedy icon Mel Brooks.
Brooks was not only responsible for hiring writer-director David Lynch, who was working as a roofer at the time, but also pushed to film it in black-and-white.
Brooks deliberately left his name off of the credits, as to not mislead people about the strictly dramatic nature of the film.
The Elephant Man went on to be nominated for 8 Oscars in 1981, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Despite the extensive and impressive makeup work, it did not receive a nomination for Best Makeup.
A Travesty you Say!
Yes indeed, but there’s actually a valid reason for this apparent and grievous snub.
Instead of having a regular category for makeup, any notable achievements in a particular year were cited with a special award instead.
However, since the transformation of John Hurt was so prolific (10 hours per grand shooting day) and central to the film’s success, a letter of protest was sent to the Academy’s Board of Governors and thus the Best Makeup Category was born the following year.
During that first of the categories existence, Rick Baker beat Stan Winston for American Werewolf in London and Heartbeeps respectively.
Watch out for The Elephant Man in theaters near you on March 13.
It will also be available on digital, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD Collector’s Edition on April 6th.