Tag Archives: anne bancroft

The Elephant Man – Review

12 Nov

Joseph “John” Merrick is a man that throughout the years has become a very interesting individual. This isn’t due to any achievement or talent that he had, but because of the rare and extremely curious disease that ailed him, now known as neurofibromatosis. In 1980, the year of this film’s release, David Lynch only had Eraserhead in terms of feature films, but the uncredited producer Mel Brooks was so impressed with this film that he hired Lynch to act as director of the story of Merrick’s later life in The Elephant Man.

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Doctor Fredrick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) is a surgeon in London who comes across an interesting specimen at a traveling freak show one night. This specimen is John Merrick (John Hurt), a man whose extreme deformities make the general public reel in horror at just the sight of him. Treves takes Merrick to the London Hospital to be studied, but soon gets him permanent residence and care. Over the time spent together, the two men become very close friends and Merrick’s reputation as a tragic human being is made known after he befriends famous stage actress Mage Kendal (Anne Bancroft). While everything seems to be going better for Merrick with the help of many kind and caring people, hateful and greedy men from his past and present still use him for fear and money, making Merrick’s ailment all the more difficult.

The Elephant Man is a hard movie to summarize because it isn’t really a plot based movie, but more of a character study and a look at how society should see people who are different. Casting David Lynch was a very interesting choice given his absurd and surreal filmography. This is a much more straightforward film than his others, but there are still glimpses of his trademark style from nightmare sequences to the heavily industrialized area with beautiful shots of smoke blowing out of chimneys and grimy machinery being operated, all embellished an excellent industrial sound design.

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Now, there are a few movies whose sole reason for existence is to test the limits of my tear ducts. Crying isn’t the most enjoyable past time, but sometimes when I’m watching a movie (or the last episode of the John Adams miniseries!!) I just can’t really help myself. The Elephant Man is a very difficult movie to watch in this respect. Seeing Merrick dealing with his disease is hard enough, but seeing his very human reactions to people gawking, screaming, and making fun of him is even worse.

So no, this is not an uplifting movie at all, but this isn’t really a film to watch if you’re looking for a good feeling to be had. This is something to watch to learn about a man’s life, how to treat other human beings regardless of their individual circumstances, and to admire the cinematography by Freddie Francis, who went on to work with Lynch in Dune and later on with Scorsese in his remake of Cape Fear. The point is that you really need to know what you’re getting into with The Elephant Man.

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David Lynch may forever be known as one of the strangest and most surreal film makers of the modern era, with films like Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive to stand as testament. He did something beautifully different with The Elephant Man. He created a very human drama an very unusual and interesting man to come out of the Victorian era. It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and succeeds in telling this man’s story, despite some historical inaccuracies. It’s one of those movies that are just plain perfect.

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The Graduate – Review

16 May

Ever since I got to college, a lot of time has been spent in class studying The Graduate, so it was only a matter of time before I actually got to reviewing it. To me, this movie is a classic and is full of memorable scenes that are used to convey the emotions that Benjamin feels. This is a very important movie, and I’m glad I’m finally reviewing it.

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has finally graduated college with multiple awards and honorable mentions. Now that he’s about to enter the real world, he finds himself to be very nervous about his future. This anxiety is relieved when he enters into an affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the older wife of his father’s partner at their law firm. This affair continues of requite some time until Benjamin is forced to take Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), out, despite Mrs. Robinson’s protestations. Benjamin soon falls in love with Elaine and must unravel himself from the lies that he has caused from his affair in order to be with the one he loves.

Dustin Hoffman gives a fantastic performance that jump started his career and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross were also nominated, along with the cinematographer, producer, and writer. The director, Mike Nichols, won the Academy Award for Best Director, however. Bancroft and Hoffman have incredibly awkward chemistry that almost makes some of their scenes hard to watch. This isn’t a bad thing, however, because it gives the characters a massive amount of depth. All of the character are deep, but Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson are very believable.

Technically speaking, The Graduate is a milestone. The editing and different uses of camera lenses give each scene a unique feel. For example, the use of a telephoto lens as Benjamin is running towards a church to stop a wedding makes it feel like Benjamin isn’t gaining any distance, even though he is running really fast. The cinematography also looks fantastic, with lighting that perfectly mimics the mood of the scene.

A really effective part of The Graduate is how much Benjamin’s feelings of anxiety resonate with me, personally. The future is a scary thing, but it is never made into an impossibility. Benjamin spends the entire movie making really quick decisions, which is a very bad idea if you want to be successful in life. The last shot of the movie is exceptionally subtle at saying that this is not the end of Benjamin’s story, and we’ll never know if he goes on to live a happy life.

It is said that this film perfectly captures and explores the theme of rebellious youth in the 1960s. For that time period it was probably true, but nowadays that theme is a bit played out and not very relevant in this case. That’s why the theme of the mysteries and fears of the future are what really support the story. It’s something everyone can relate to, which makes this movie very easy to understand.

The Graduate is a classic in every sense of the word. This will be a film that will be relevant for many years to come because of its themes and performances. The techniques use to make this film were new and exciting at the time and are still being used today, which makes The Graduate exceptional in every aspect. Even the soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel is something to enjoy. If you haven’t seen this yet, you are really missing out on one of the greatest movies ever made.