THE ELEPHANT MAN
1980, Paramount, 124 min, Dir: David Lynch

Based on two books about the real-life Elephant Man, John Merrick, director David Lynch recounts this severely deformed man’s perilous life in Victorian England in breathtaking black-and-white. Sir Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) rescues Merrick from a circus freak show where he is assumed to be retarded, takes him to a hospital for tests and discovers that Merrick, in fact, has great intellect and capacity for emotion. John Hurt’s ability to project Merrick’s humanity earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, along with the film’s seven other nominations including Best Picture and Best Director. Lynch’s use of costumes, makeup, Freddie Francis’ cinematography and John Morris’ score remain commendably understated, allowing the sadness of the film to avoid sentimentalism. With Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller. "ELEPHANT MAN has the power and some of the dream logic of a silent film, yet there are also wrenching, pulsating sounds -the hissing steam and the pounding of the start of the industrial age. It's Dickensian London, with perhaps a glimpse of the process that gave rise to Cubism." - Pauline Kael.


WATERSHIP DOWN
1978, Janus Films, 91 min, Dir: Martin Rosen

“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and when they catch you, they will kill you. … But first they must catch you.” This faithful adaptation of Richard Adams’ classic novel about a community of rabbits in southern England struggling to survive boasts beautiful hand-drawn animation but is hardly a children’s cartoon. Dark and sometimes violent, the journey Hazel (John Hurt) and his allies take to find refuge at Watership Down can be seen as an allegory about freedom and tyranny. Also featuring the voices of Ralph Richardson, Roy Kinnear, Denholm Elliott and Zero Mostel.


THE PROPOSITION
2005, Millennium Entertainment, 104 min, Australia/UK, Dir: John Hillcoat

Nick Cave penned the screenplay and provided the evocative score to this Australia-set Western, a pitiless drama that is as beautiful as it is violent. The Burns gang is the scourge of the outback until Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his simple-minded younger sibling are captured after a family is massacred. Facing execution, he is offered a deal – the two can go free if Charlie kills his older, more vicious brother, Arthur (Danny Huston). With Ray Winstone, Emily Watson and John Hurt. “A near-masterpiece of mood and menace, and one that deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible.” - Ty Burr, The Boston Globe.


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