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Monday, 10 October 2011

Quasimodo meets Dr Doolittle

The Elephant ManThe Elephant Man (Image via"The Elephant Man" was probably the first film that had me reaching for tissues. That was when I was an impressionable child and bought into the simple fairy tale melodrama being told me. Today only my own sense of dignity stops me from shedding another tear of indignation, but I will get to that later. Lynch's film is a perfect symphony of pathetic emotion. The film-maker's pedigree has generally been built on art house projects, which jerk unpredictably between surreal cleverness ("Lost Highway") and pretentious twaddle ("Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me"). Sometimes his work is under-rated - "Dune" may have been overblown, but did really deserve to fall like it did? - and sometimes it is over-rated - "Eraserhead" may be nightmarishly atmospheric for a short, but it's a meandering non-event for a full-length horror. Faith in Lynch's own grip on reality was thrown into serious doubt when he praised the egregiously bad 9/11 conspiracy theory documentary "Loose Change". It also seems to tip the argument away from Lynch being a bona fide intellectual director/writer to being more of a superficial sophisticate. "The Elephant Man" demonstrates another feature of the latter argument - middle class snobbery.