Cinema: Sweet Ogre

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Director Lynch, whose only previous film was the midnight cult shocker Eraserhead (made for $20,000 at the American Film Insitute), has given The Elephant Man the pace and texture of a silent film. The black-and-white film stock puts the audience at a discreet remove from Merrick's deformity; more important, it transports the viewer to a time when nearly every film was a parable relating the victory of good over evil or misfortune. This is a tale of redemption and transcendence, of the hunchback of London Hospital, of the noble phantom who want to go to the opera, of Beauty and the Beast. In Treves' account, though, the Beast was a Beauty. In Lynch's hands, so is this film.

—By Richard Corliss

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