Sunday, January 20, 2013

Top 100 #32: The Elephant Man

Whenever someone brings up Lynch, you are liable to hear 1 of three things brought up: Blue Velvet, Eraserhead and Twin Peaks. He knows how to scare, bewilder and transfix his audiences in a sublime awe that lingers in the memory well beyond the closing credits. What is not brought up so often is just how much of a heart the guy has for subjects such as this one.

Deformed people and what people label as freaks have been a morbid fascination to me for many years. This harkens back all the way to Tod Browning's Freaks. The subject of John Merrick is something of an obssession to me. That such an intellectual man could be burdened with such intense disfigurement and ridicule from society is heartbreaking in itself.

This was the first film of Lynch's I had seen. I didn't know who David Lynch was. Neither did I know what his second feature had in store for me. By the time Adagio For Strings started playing at the end, I was completely drained. It was a spiritually transformative and devastating experience. I seldom watch the film because, like Dear Zachary and Schindler's List, it is a film that transcends the medium itself. One that you have to be ready for to take on because you know the power it has over you. Thank you David Lynch for creating a film that having only seen it twice, has had a tremendous impact on me and the understanding of the human condition. But above all else, thank you John Merrick for bestowing upon us the world one of kindest, endearing spirits our frightened world has known.

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