1051 The Elephant Man

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Message
Author
User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#26 Post by tenia » Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:13 pm

I thought my cousin thinking the segments in Sin City were all with the same character reincarnating in various forms couldn't be beaten, but that comes extremely close.

User avatar
The Pachyderminator
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:24 pm

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#27 Post by The Pachyderminator » Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:39 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 1:24 pm
That interpretation of Lynch's impressionistic treatment of the legend of the Elephant Man's origins (later verbalised within the first fifteen minutes as "this creature's poor mother, struck down in the fourth month of her maternal condition by an elephant, a wild elephant") is a disaster that makes it hard to trust your judgement going forward.

Seriously, did you not stop for a moment to think "hang on a minute, is this actually a bestial rape sequence that I'm watching, or am I letting my over-fevered imagination run away with me?"
Well, no, as far as that goes, I didn't suppose I was watching a literal elephant rape, and certainly not that the film is telling us that the historical Merrick's mother was raped by an elephant. I called it that because, as I remember it, that's for all the world what it looks like, and what the audience is meant to think of when they first see it at the beginning of the film. It's hard to believe that this was merely a product of my over-fevered imagination. Maybe it is anyway; goodness knows I should have learned by now not to say anything about a film I haven't seen three times. Still, I got the distinct impression that the film was not so much depicting Merrick's exploitation by others as perpetuating that exploitation itself. The story is self-condemning as a macabre spectacle. It should have been made by anyone but Lynch.

And now I've probably dug myself deep enough.

bluesforyou
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:35 am

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#28 Post by bluesforyou » Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:42 pm

yoloswegmaster wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:34 pm
Ribs wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:16 pm

Also importing fees have never been a serious stumbling block in my experience, at least before the COVID times when everything’s jumped a bit. More the mental thought of importing is what stops people then the actual process which is really no more difficult then buying anything else online.
It might not be serious for you but for me it is. The 4K UHD for Elephant Man costs around $90 CAD on Amazon UK (for reference, the John Ford set from Indicator cost about the same). Even though I've gone region-free, I am not willing to spend $90 on 1 title and I assume it's the same for a lot of other people. So no, it's not really the mental thought that stops people from importing, but rather the costs that are associated with it.
This is a straight up lie. The costs are inflated at the moment due to the shipping restrictions. The disc itself only costs 50 CAD and that is the really fancy special edition. Criterion discs already retail upwards of 40 CAD on Amazon.ca. Once normal shipping resumes, importing will not be a hassle. And as other users pointed out, Amazon is not the only option. Zavvi has great deals and cheaper shipping.

User avatar
CSM126
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:22 am
Location: The Room
Contact:

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#29 Post by CSM126 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:44 pm

Wow. I’ve never seen an ounce of exploitation in this film. It’s one of the loveliest, most heartbreaking films I’ve ever seen precisely because it goes out of its way to dignify and sympathize with Merrick, portraying him as a beautiful soul cursed with a monstrous body. Aside from The Straight Story, I think this is Lynch’s most straightforward “Hollywood”-type film, a classic three-hankie weeper that happens to have a few surreal touches.

To each their own, but for me this is just a beautiful and kind film.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#30 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 16, 2020 4:18 pm

The Pachyderminator wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:39 pm
Well, no, as far as that goes, I didn't suppose I was watching a literal elephant rape, and certainly not that the film is telling us that the historical Merrick's mother was raped by an elephant. I called it that because, as I remember it, that's for all the world what it looks like, and what the audience is meant to think of when they first see it at the beginning of the film.
I've seen this film many, many times, the 40th annniversary of my first viewing being mere months away, and I have never once thought "elephant rape" until this evening. And I'm no stranger to arthouse films featuring implied bestiality, as my contributions to Arrow's La Bête and Padre Padrone and Mondo Macabro's Private Vices Public Virtues rather give away.
It's hard to believe that this was merely a product of my over-fevered imagination. Maybe it is anyway; goodness knows I should have learned by now not to say anything about a film I haven't seen three times.
I've just watched it again, and there's not one single shot that even remotely suggests that rape is occurring. It's staged entirely in accordance with the legend of Joseph Merrick's origins (which is verbally spelled out for us by Bytes twelve minutes later), and that's clearly how we're meant to interpret it.

I suspect a major problem here is that you so totally misread that scene that it's ended up colouring your impression of the film as a whole. Not least because...
Still, I got the distinct impression that the film was not so much depicting Merrick's exploitation by others as perpetuating that exploitation itself. The story is self-condemning as a macabre spectacle.
I wrote a paragraph contesting this, and then on impulse looked up Pauline Kael's review, and she put it much more eloquently, so...
Pauline Kael wrote:When Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins), the doctor who is to become Merrick’s friend, first tracks him down in the illegal, hidden sideshow where he’s being exhibited as the Elephant Man, Treves goes through what seem to be endless slum passageways and alleys into an abyss—the darkness where the monster huddles. Finally, he sees the pathetic deformed creature, but we don’t. We see only Treves’ reaction, and his tears falling. The grace in Lynch’s work comes from care and thought: this is a film about the exhibition and exploitation of a freak, and he must have been determined not to be an exploiter himself. The monster is covered or shadowed from us in the early sequences and we see only parts of him, a little at a time. Lynch builds up our interest in seeing more in a way that seems very natural. When we’re ready to see him clearly, we do. By then, we have become so sympathetic that there’s no disgust about seeing his full deformity. John Hurt has had the screen long enough to make us respond to his wheezing, groaning sounds and his terrified movements, so we don’t see merely the deformations, we see the helpless person locked in the repulsive flesh. Even before Merrick begins to speak to Treves and to recite poetry and to reveal his romantic sensibility, we have become his protectors. He’s a large lumplike mass at first, but as we get to know him, and respond to his helplessness, he begins to seem very slight— almost doll-like. There’s nothing frightening about him, and he’s not repellent, either. His misshapen body and the knobby protuberances on his forehead suggest a work of an Archipenko or one of Picasso’s bulging distortions.

The only horror is in what we experience on his behalf. When a young nurse sees him and screams, it’s his recoil we respond to.
The Pachyderminator wrote:It should have been made by anyone but Lynch.
I couldn't disagree more. Lynch's involvement (and Mel Brooks' as executive producer for letting him have a startling amount of creative freedom for a second-timer making his first professional feature) is what made The Elephant Man the extraordinary work of art that it is. It's so totally Lynch's film that it's pretty much impossible to imagine what another director would have made of the original Christopher DeVore/Eric Bergren script (which I gather was a fair bit more conventional than the final draft that Lynch contributed to), but I suspect it would have run the risk of being a far more by-the-numbers Victorian melodrama, and possibly one that actually was as exploitative as you're bizarrely accusing Lynch's film of being.

beamish14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#31 Post by beamish14 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:09 pm

movielocke wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 4:37 pm
A little bit surprised they didn't include editor Anne Coates' reminiscences on working on Elephant Man she did at an Academy event back in 2009, on the other hand, they weren't super flattering of Lynch, so he'd probably nix them off the release if they did include them.

That's really interesting. Do you recall what she said, by any chance? I thought Anthony Hopkins also strongly disliked working with Lynch.
I missed the chance to see her discuss Lawrence of Arabia when she visited the American Cinematheque.

beamish14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#32 Post by beamish14 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:15 pm

I know Lynch is loathe to discuss his influences beyond a handful of films like Sunset Boulevard, but I cannot imagine for
a second that he did not see John Huston's Freud while in high school or as a young man and that it did not impact how
he approached the story and made this brilliant work.

User avatar
Feego
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:30 pm
Location: Texas

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#33 Post by Feego » Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:43 pm

Has Lynch ever said why two actresses were cast as Merrick's mother? I believe Phoebe Nicholls only appears in photographs while Lydia Lisle appears in the opening and closing scenes, but both actresses are credited. That's always confused me.

User avatar
yoloswegmaster
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:57 pm

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#34 Post by yoloswegmaster » Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:17 pm

bluesforyou wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:42 pm

This is a straight up lie. The costs are inflated at the moment due to the shipping restrictions. The disc itself only costs 50 CAD and that is the really fancy special edition. Criterion discs already retail upwards of 40 CAD on Amazon.ca. Once normal shipping resumes, importing will not be a hassle. And as other users pointed out, Amazon is not the only option. Zavvi has great deals and cheaper shipping.
How am I lying? The current price is indeed $90 CAD, even if it may have inflated shipping. The only lie here is your claim that the special edition disc costs $50 when it actually costs $60. It will also cost more then $65 if I buy from Zaavi using standard shipping, and that is still kinda steep for me. Criterions may cost $$40on Amazon.ca but Unobstructed View will have their own 50% sales, so it will be much cheaper to buy then.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#35 Post by swo17 » Wed Jun 17, 2020 12:18 am

OK maybe you weren't lying, but as I speak, the standard editions of all the SC Carpenter UHDs and Don't Look Now are all £17 or lower. It's not hard to believe that at some point they (and presumably the eventual standard edition of Elephant Man) will be available to import for roughly the same cost as the Criterion. The much bigger hurdle of course is the cost of 4K and/or region-free equipment.

Incidentally, here is a reminder to everyone that might be importing the StudioCanal that their release of Mulholland Dr is also approximately David Mackenzie times better than the Criterion

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#36 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jun 17, 2020 1:11 am

beamish14 wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:09 pm
I thought Anthony Hopkins also strongly disliked working with Lynch.
This has been exaggerated. Hopkins was in quite a difficult situation at the time, because he was contracted to work on the romantic comedy A Change of Seasons, which, although long forgotten now, was supposed to be his big breakthrough to a mainstream US audience, and whose producer made it very clear to Jonathan Sanger that his start date was not negotiable - which meant that all of Hopkins' scenes needed to be in the can by a specific date that was long before the end of production. Sanger had a similar nightmare involving John Hurt, who was trapped in Montana shooting the massively over-schedule Heaven's Gate and therefore started on The Elephant Man so late that he and Hopkins ultimately had very little overlap on set - and Lynch's own abortive attempt at creating the make-up also caused significant delays and on-set compromises (such as Merrick wearing the bag on his head for rather more screen time than had originally been anticipated, especially in his scenes with Treves).

But even aside from that, there seems to have been a core problem in that Lynch didn't behave the way that Hopkins expected a director to behave - in particular, he wasn't very good at verbalising exactly what he wanted (not too surprisingly; even aside from the fact that Lynch isn't the world's most verbally articulate individual anyway, this was his first professional directing commission ever, and he'd effectively had no training). To quote Hopkins directly "The fact was, he was a perfectly pleasant fellow, and I was the one who was unpleasant because I became increasingly irritated with what I felt was his rather arrogant lack of communication. We were somehow supposed to understand his thoughts." Hopkins also wasn't happy with Lynch's fondness for multiple takes when he (Hopkins) was convinced that he'd already nailed what he was after - and I suspect he was even less keen on this practice given how loudly the clock was ticking with regard to A Change of Seasons.

But when Hopkins saw the final film, everything made sense, and he was so contrite that he wrote an apologetic letter to Lynch.
swo17 wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 12:18 am
OK maybe you weren't lying, but as I speak, the standard editions of all the SC Carpenter UHDs and Don't Look Now are all £17 or lower. It's not hard to believe that at some point they (and presumably the eventual standard edition of Elephant Man) will be available to import for roughly the same cost as the Criterion. The much bigger hurdle of course is the cost of 4K and/or region-free equipment.
I bought the Zavvi-exclusive steelbook of The Elephant Man because I didn't want any of the rest of the crap that came with the StudioCanal edition, and the UHD disc was exactly the same. Total cost £24.99 - more than I'd normally pay, but I thought this film deserved it (especially given David Mackenzie's involvement).

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#37 Post by tenia » Wed Jun 17, 2020 3:05 am

If people are going to import, there also is the French 4k/BD steelbook, whose discs are identical to the UK set. It's currently 25€.

bluesforyou
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:35 am

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#38 Post by bluesforyou » Wed Jun 17, 2020 3:54 am

yoloswegmaster wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:17 pm
bluesforyou wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:42 pm

This is a straight up lie. The costs are inflated at the moment due to the shipping restrictions. The disc itself only costs 50 CAD and that is the really fancy special edition. Criterion discs already retail upwards of 40 CAD on Amazon.ca. Once normal shipping resumes, importing will not be a hassle. And as other users pointed out, Amazon is not the only option. Zavvi has great deals and cheaper shipping.
How am I lying? The current price is indeed $90 CAD, even if it may have inflated shipping. The only lie here is your claim that the special edition disc costs $50 when it actually costs $60. It will also cost more then $65 if I buy from Zaavi using standard shipping, and that is still kinda steep for me. Criterions may cost $$40on Amazon.ca but Unobstructed View will have their own 50% sales, so it will be much cheaper to buy then.
You don't have to pay VAT on UK items. It costs 50 CAD. Again this is the special edition.

User avatar
Jean-Luc Garbo
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:55 am
Contact:

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#39 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Jun 17, 2020 7:20 pm

Was the 2008 Studiocanal dvd also encoded by David Mackenzie?

User avatar
bugsy_pal
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 1:28 am

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#40 Post by bugsy_pal » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:26 am

I bought the Limited Edition box from Zavvi, and it's on its way to me. I should have done my research, as it has just been released here in Australia, and I'll probably be waiting for a month for the box to get here.

Re Swo17's comment about the StudioCanal Bluray of Mulholland Drive - I can vouch for that. I have the old 2008 SC bluray, but sprung for teh Criterion with the new transfer. Then I grabbed the new SC disc here recently for $10. The Criterion has some of the worst compression artefacts that I've seen on a bluray, whereas the SC is perfect.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#41 Post by swo17 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:32 am

Discussion of David Mackenzie's thrilling work moved here

User avatar
perkizitore
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:29 pm
Location: OOP is the only answer

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#42 Post by perkizitore » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:33 am

yoloswegmaster wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:17 pm
bluesforyou wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:42 pm

This is a straight up lie. The costs are inflated at the moment due to the shipping restrictions. The disc itself only costs 50 CAD and that is the really fancy special edition. Criterion discs already retail upwards of 40 CAD on Amazon.ca. Once normal shipping resumes, importing will not be a hassle. And as other users pointed out, Amazon is not the only option. Zavvi has great deals and cheaper shipping.
How am I lying? The current price is indeed $90 CAD, even if it may have inflated shipping. The only lie here is your claim that the special edition disc costs $50 when it actually costs $60. It will also cost more then $65 if I buy from Zaavi using standard shipping, and that is still kinda steep for me. Criterions may cost $$40on Amazon.ca but Unobstructed View will have their own 50% sales, so it will be much cheaper to buy then.
Or just get the Australian release which is even cheaper

User avatar
TheKieslowskiHaze
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:37 am

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#43 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:58 am

Dr. Elephant Mantanasov

Extras look robust.

User avatar
justeleblanc
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:05 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#44 Post by justeleblanc » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:05 am

The Blu ray review says the soundtrack is in 1.0. Criterion says the disc is in stereo (presumably 2.0). I presume this disc is in fact in 2.0 (the film was initially released in Dolby Stereo, not mono), but perhaps the disc is actually in 1.0?

User avatar
FrauBlucher
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
Location: Greenwich Village

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#45 Post by FrauBlucher » Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:30 pm


User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#46 Post by MichaelB » Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:31 pm

justeleblanc wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:05 am
The Blu ray review says the soundtrack is in 1.0. Criterion says the disc is in stereo (presumably 2.0). I presume this disc is in fact in 2.0 (the film was initially released in Dolby Stereo, not mono), but perhaps the disc is actually in 1.0?
Beaver says 2.0, which is what I'd expect given that the new restoration has a 2.0 soundtrack.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#47 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:46 am

justeleblanc wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:05 am
The Blu ray review says the soundtrack is in 1.0. Criterion says the disc is in stereo (presumably 2.0). I presume this disc is in fact in 2.0 (the film was initially released in Dolby Stereo, not mono), but perhaps the disc is actually in 1.0?
The Criterion site doesn't have anything on the audio at all now

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#48 Post by tenia » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:33 am

The Criterion is LPCM 2.0.

User avatar
GaryC
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:56 pm
Location: Aldershot, Hampshire, UK

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#49 Post by GaryC » Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:14 am

Feego wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:43 pm
Has Lynch ever said why two actresses were cast as Merrick's mother? I believe Phoebe Nicholls only appears in photographs while Lydia Lisle appears in the opening and closing scenes, but both actresses are credited. That's always confused me.
I've only just seen your post and I don't know the answer. But it's definitely Phoebe Nicholls in the opening scene falling to the ground and screaming though it's not her at the end. Once all the principals and featured roles are listed in the end credits, everyone else in the cast is in order of appearance, with Nicholls first and Lisle last.

User avatar
justeleblanc
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:05 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: 1051 The Elephant Man

#50 Post by justeleblanc » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:53 am

flyonthewall2983 wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:46 am
justeleblanc wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:05 am
The Blu ray review says the soundtrack is in 1.0. Criterion says the disc is in stereo (presumably 2.0). I presume this disc is in fact in 2.0 (the film was initially released in Dolby Stereo, not mono), but perhaps the disc is actually in 1.0?
The Criterion site doesn't have anything on the audio at all now
That's strange, right?

Post Reply