David LynchJun 5, 2023
A Film by David Lynch
New Books Network 2023
George Orwell said, "By fifty, every man has the face he deserves." To what degree does David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980) respond to the idea that our appearances define our moral selves? Join Mike and Dan for a conversation about the ways in which the story of John Merrick resonates in contemporary reality-TV and how Meririck is trapped in a series of performances. There's a sense that Lynch does to Merrick what the characters--good and bad--do to him in the film: does Lynch get to use Merrick like the shark in Jaws but also like Helen in The Miracle Worker? Give it a listen and decide!
The film is based on two books. The first is Frederick Treves' The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences, which you can find here. The second is Ashley Montagu's The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity. Mike and Dan also talk about the play by Bernard Pomerance in which the actor playing Merrick uses no makeup--you can find that here.