Thursday, November 16, 2006

[1980] THE ELEPHANT MAN: I've heard this described as either minor Lynch or "normal" Lynch and I guess it's kind of both, because I'm not sure there's a whole lot going on here. It's definitely not weird like a David Lynch movie is supposed to be--oh sure, there's the freaky opening scene with the elephants attacking John Merrick's mom (I think), and the trippy, out-of-nowhere ending with John ascending to the heavens and his mother's voice and image (sort of the similar return to the womb via death to the end of 2001.) Merrick is definitely physically weird, but there doesn't seem to be much weird about him on the inside, besides an overweening commitment to politeness--I kept waiting for him to tell people to stop patronizing him, which never came, and I guess that's the point, that Merrick is as ugly as possible on the outside and as kind as possible on the inside. So is the movie as testament to that immense good natured-ness from a guy who got a shitty deal from the world and chose not to hate it? I don't think it's much more than that. And that's not a put-down or anything, more of a testament to the focused way Lynch told this story. Yeah--it's a simple story about being good-natured in situations where nobody could reasonably be expected to be good-natured, shot beautifully in black and white.

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