Screening Dates
  • October 9, 2023 8:40
  • October 14, 2023 8:30
  • October 19, 2023 8:30
  • October 24, 2023 6:00
New Restoration

Sublime … I defy anyone to hear John Hurt’s [performance] without feeling something tear loose within.”

Nick Pinkerton, Artforum

Following his brilliant DIY debut Eraserhead, David Lynch fit his eccentricities into the vitrine of a studio drama for this beautifully imagined portrait of Joseph John” Merrick. In London’s 19th-century East End, freak shows are being shamed out of existence by Victorian reformers, a development to the advantage of the medically curious Dr. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins), who bargains for the right to study Merrick and his bodily abnormalities. (Treves’s writings inform some of the icily mannered script.) Producer Mel Brooks, who kept his name out of the credits lest audiences expect a comedy, protected the film from studio cuts and surrounded Lynch with master collaborators: cinematographer Freddie Francis (The Innocents), editor Anne V. Coates (Lawrence of Arabia), and, as Merrick, actor John Hurt. Screening here in its director-approved restoration, Lynch’s surefooted film is a carefully crafted study of human dignity in the face of industrialized cruelty.

Restored DCP courtesy of StudioCanal

Lynch’s powerful depiction of Merrick … moves a viewer from revulsion and fear to empathy and tenderness. That’s the very movement of the story itself.”

Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Haunting … A handsome, eerie, disturbing movie … Mr. Hurt is truly remarkable.”

Vincent Canby, The New York Times