The Elephant Man (film)

1980 film by David Lynch

The Elephant Man is a 1980 film directed by David Lynch, based on the life of Joseph Merrick (referred to as John Merrick, in this film).

People are frightened by what they don't understand.
I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I... am... a man!

John Merrick


Dr. Frederick Treves

  • Am I a good man? Or a bad man?


  • Life!... is full of surprises. Consider the fate of this creature's poor mother, struck down in the fourth month of her maternal condition by an elephant, a wild elephant. Struck down!... on an uncharted African isle. The result is plain to see... Ladies and gentlemen... The terrible... Elephant... Man!

Mary Jane Merrick

  • Never. Oh, never. Nothing will die. The stream flows, the wind blows, the cloud fleets, the heart beats. Nothing will die.


Dr. Fox: Have you ever mentioned his mental state?
Dr. Frederick Treves: Oh, he's an imbecile, probably from birth. Man's a complete idiot... Pray to God he's an idiot.

Mrs. Kendal: Why, Mr. Merrick, you're not an elephant man at all.
John Merrick: Oh no?
Mrs. Kendal: Oh no... no... you're a Romeo.

Carr Gomm: Can you imagine the kind of life he must have had?
Dr. Frederick Treves: Yes, I think I can.
Carr Gomm: I don't think so. No one could possibly imagine it! I don't believe any of us can!

Mrs. Mothershead: Sir! I don't quite... I don't quite understand why it is you allow that sort of people in there.
Dr. Frederick Treves: Why? Because he enjoys it, and I think it's very good for him.
Mrs. Mothershead: Yes, but, sir, you saw the expression on their faces. They didn't hide their disgust. They don't care anything about John! They only want to impress their friends!
Dr. Frederick Treves: I think you're being rather harsh on them, don't you, Mrs. Mothershead?
Mrs. Mothershead: I beg your pardon!
Dr. Frederick Treves: You yourself hardly showed him much loving kindness when he first arrived, did you?
Mrs. Mothershead: I bathed him, I fed him, and I cleaned up after him, didn't I? And I see that my nurses do the same. And if loving kindness can be called care and practical concern, then I did show him loving kindness, and I am not ashamed to admit it!
Dr. Frederick Treves: I didn't mean it exactly that way, Mrs. Mothershead. Now please believe me. Of course I appreciate your concern. I appreciate everything you've done for Mr. Merrick.
Mrs. Mothershead: Thank you.
Dr. Frederick Treves: But I am the physician in charge--
Mrs. Mothershead: I appreciate tha--
Dr. Frederick Treves: And I must do what I think is best for him!
Mrs. Mothershead: If you ask for my opinion, he's only being stared at all over again!

John Merrick: There's something I've been meaning to ask you for some time now.
Dr. Frederick Treves: What's that?
John Merrick: Can you cure me?
Dr. Frederick Treves: No. We can care for you, but we can't cure you.
John Merrick: [matter-of-factly] No. I thought not.

Mrs. Treves: I'm very pleased to meet you, Mr. Merrick.
John Merrick: I'm very pleased... [begins to cry]
Dr. Frederick Treves: What is it, John? What's the matter?
John Merrick: It's just that I-I'm not used to being treated so well by a beautiful woman...

John Merrick: Would you care to see my mother?
Dr. Frederick Treves: [surprised] Your mother? Yes, please.
[Merrick pulls out a small portrait]
Mrs. Treves: Oh but she's... Mr. Merrick, she's beautiful!
John Merrick: Oh, she had the face of an angel! [sadly] I must have been a great disappointment to her.
Mrs. Treves: No, Mr. Merrick, no! No son as loving as you could ever be a disappointment.
John Merrick: If only I could find her, so she could see me with such lovely friends here now; perhaps she could love me as I am. I've tried so hard to be good.

Dr. Frederick Treves: (To Jim in the furnace room) Where is he? Where's Mr. Merrick?
Jim: I don't know what you mean, sir.
Dr. Frederick Treves: DON'T LIE TO ME!! I know all about it, you were seen! You're involved with Bytes, aren't you? You've taken him. WHERE. IS. HE?
Jim: Now, wait a minute. I haven't taken him anywhere. I don't know no Bytes. We were just having a bit of fun. We never hurt him. You know, just having a laugh, that's all.
Dr. Frederick Treves: (Shoves Jim to a wall) YOU BASTARD! HE'S GONE!!!
Jim: When I left him, he was in bed safe and sound!
Dr. Frederick Treves: YOU BASTARD! (Shoves Jim, making him knock over a table with plates) YOU BASTARD!!
Jim: You're not listening to me! I told you, I don't know no Bytes! I ain't done nothing wrong! People pay money to see your monster, Mr. Treves. I collect it.
Jim: (Picks up a fire poker) You don't frighten me, you and your bleedin' Elephant Man. I'm glad what I done, and you can do nothing about it. Only Mothershead can sack me now!
Mothershead: (Comes up behind him and knocks him out with a package) Done.
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