The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man (1980)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Hurt, John Gielgud
Extras: Interviews, Trailer, Photo Gallery

Featuring an all-star cast that consists of Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Hurt, John Gielgud and many others, ’The Elephant Man’ is the highly acclaimed telling of an impressively touching and sensible story. It is about a man who is extremely deformed with Proteous Syndrome in Victorian England, a place where he is immediately outcast and degraded as a circus freak. A surgeon, discovers the man and decides to give him back his life, his dignity and a face, in this film that is hard to forget.

Paramount Home Video is giving us a splendid widescreen transfer of ’The Elephant Man.’ Never has the film looked better. The level of detail found in the presentation is breathtaking and brings to life the movie’s cinematography like no home video version before. Every bit of detail is intact, allowing you to almost smell the gutters of Victorian London as the film’s impressive visuals permeate the story. Shot entirely in black and white, the film oozes atmosphere and style, and the 2.35:1 framing of the movie is perfectly restored on this DVD. The print s free of distracting blemishes and the good contrast helps to establish a firmly rooted image with solid blacks and good highlights. The compression is without flaws and no compression artifacts are evident.

The DVD features a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track as well as a Dolby surround track and a monaural French language track. All of them are well produced and the multichannel mixes make good, although deliberately subdued, use of the surround channels. Using early reflections and ambient sounds in the rear, the soundtrack manages to breathe life and an airiness and transparency into the mix that helps make the story more palpable. It is a beautifully subtle mix that perfectly and sensitively complements the images.

The disc contains a number of interview segments with cast and crew members as well as the make-up artist Christopher Tucker who created the Oscar-wining make-up for the movie, as well as a narrated photo gallery. The extras are nice and exciting, adding some additional depth to the release.

Interestingly, the DVD does not contain chapter stops, upon the request of the director. In a time where films are dissected frame-by-frame and technology allows you to jump around any movie to your liking, director David Lynch wanted to make sure the editorial flow and integrity of his film remains intact and therefore opted to have no chapter stops added to this release, a decision we certainly respect and understand, especially in the case of a film that is so carefully crafted.

’The Elephant Man’ makes yet another impressive appearance, over 20 years after its debut. Every fan of the film should give this DVD a good check-up. Like myself you will discover new elements on this spectacular disc that were previously washed out by other home video incarnations.