Film - Feature | January 12 | 4:30 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
In recreating the story of John Merrick, the Victorian who was reputed to be the ugliest man alive, David Lynch effects a study of prejudice, voyeurism, and human dignity. Merrick was born with neurofibromatosis, giving him an enlarged head, a twisted spine, and facial deformities. As an adult, he is a virtual prisoner of a traveling freak show until the surgeon Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) becomes his protector, finding funding for a private room in the London Hospital. Here Merrick very gradually reveals himself to be not only intelligent but an intellectual, and finds a measure of happiness equal to his measure of dignity. But he becomes another kind of sideshowfor high societyand Treves must ask if he himself is not a high-class carny. Lynch plays with point-of-view to make his point: aided by the actor John Hurt in an extraordinarily moving performance, he shows us what it must be like to see through Merricks eyes, hear with his ears.
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