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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Elephant Man (1980)

The Elephant Man (1980)

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Released 8-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 118:21 (Case: 123)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Lynch

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Anthony Hopkins
John Hurt
Anne Bancroft
John Gielgud
Wendy Hiller
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music John Morris

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Based on a true story, The Elephant Man is a story about a man with severe physical deformities whose acceptance into society is assisted by a surgeon.

    John Merrick (John Hurt) is a twenty-one year old Englishman who is discovered working in a side show freak display by surgeon Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins). After receiving a beating from the man who displays him, John is taken to the hospital and his injuries are treated. During his treatment, it becomes apparent that John is highly intelligent and does not suffer from any of the mental problems previously assumed. As his treatment progresses, John is introduced to the public via a number of articles in the London Times. As his fame grows, he is eventually accepted by London society.

    This film was directed by David Lynch in 1980 and is shot in black and white. The lack of colour suits the film and helps set the film in its 19th century period. As this is a traditional screenplay, most viewers would not guess that the film was directed by Lynch - it does not exhibit the unusual story-telling style he is normally associated with. When released, the film received wide critical acclaim and was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.

    Unfortunately, this transfer exhibits a large number of extremely severe artefacts that are very disruptive to the viewer - please refer to the Video Transfer section for further information.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.30:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is extremely sharp throughout with excellent levels of detail constantly visible. During most of the transfer, high levels of shadow detail may be seen, but during a small number of scenes some dark sections of the picture lose detail. This is not distracting to the viewer and I believe the problem is inherent in the source material.

    As this film is presented in black and white, there are no problems with colour bleed and the palette remains uniformly grey.

    At no stage during the transfer were any MPEG artefacts detected.

    Aliasing poses a severe problem for this transfer. Nearly all scenes in this film show some level of aliasing, with many scenes exhibiting extreme aliasing. Due to the extreme nature of this problem, we queried Universal about the source of this problem, and were informed that this aliasing was present in the original Digibeta master used for the transfer. This aliasing was introduced by the telecine process, and whilst admittedly some of the material, such as cobblestone streets and brickwork, is prone to aliasing artefacts, this level of severe aliasing is unacceptable, as it makes the disc all but unwatchable.

    A small number of film artefacts may be seen during the transfer but they are quite rare and never distracting to the viewer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 4:20, 6:45, 8:17, 9:25 and 10:05.

    The layer change occurs at 61:45 part way through Chapter 10 during a fade between scenes. As this point is not a fade-to-black or a hard cut, the change is slightly disruptive to viewers.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    A single English Dolby Digital 224 kbps 2.0 surround-encoded track is provided.

    During some scenes, the character of John Merrick is a little hard to understand but the dialogue for all other characters is always clear and easy to understand. No drop-outs or issues with audio sync were detected at any stage during the transfer.

    The musical score provides suitable ambience to the film whilst never drawing attention to itself.

    The surround channels are used minimally during the movie to provide support for both music and some effects. The subwoofer receives very little action during this film and never draws attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The non-animated menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (3:00)

   This trailer is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.


   Short biographies and select filmographies are included for Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud, Anne Bancroft and director David Lynch.

Photo Gallery

   This is a collection of eight shots taken from the movie and its inclusion is of no real value.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

The UK Region 2 version of this disc misses out on;

    This film is currently not available in Region 1, but there are three different versions available in Region 2. All are presented in the correct widescreen aspect ratio and are 16x9 enhanced. The Japanese NTSC version reportedly also has significant aliasing artefacts and the French PAL version only has a MPEG audio. The UK release includes an interesting 64 page book titled One Of Us: David Lynch and The Elephant Man but unfortunately uses the same telecine master used for the R4 release and consequently shows a similar level of aliasing. Therefore at this time I would advise fans of the film to wait for the R1 release.


    The Elephant Man is an excellent film that reminds viewers not to judge people on their initial impressions.

    The transfer is let down by frequent, severe aliasing, and I have trouble recommending this disc. In fact, I have nominated it for the Hall Of Shame because of the extreme nature of the aliasing.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track is of high quality and works very well with the on-screen action.

    The minimal extras provide little information relating to this feature and the inclusion of the photo gallery is of no real worth.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Thursday, July 19, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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