YMMV / The Elephant Man

  • Award Snub: At the time, Best Makeup at the Oscars was a "Special Citation" award that was given out twice.note  So, this film's failure to get the citation was seen as a snub. The resulting controversy was the instigator for the establishment of the Best Makeup Oscar the following year.
  • Awesome Music: John Morris's mournful score, equal parts Creepy Circus Music and Tear Jerker
  • Humans Are Bastards / Rousseau Was Right: Both in the same scene at times.
  • Hype Backlash: The presentation of Merrick as Inspirationally Disadvantaged has not gone without criticism, especially since the real-life Merrick was perfectly happy with his side-show life, from which he earned a very handsome living.
  • Narm: Despite the film being one big long Tear Jerker, the part where John falls over after delivering his famous "I Am Not An Animal!" tirade may seem unintentionally funny to some.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Though Merrick is the "freak", what the "normal" people do to him is a mix of Tear Jerker with pure horror.
    • The surreal, Lynchian beginning and Merrick's dream.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Oh God yes.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The final scene of the movie. Merrick had just had the best day of his life after being invited to an Opera by a beautiful woman who seemed to care about him, and given a standing ovation by the audience when pointed to as a member of note. He goes to his bed and discards the huge amount of pillows that he needs to use to keep from dying in his sleep, gets down to the last one, looks at a painting of a man sleeping "normally" in his room, and... just watch the damn thing, it's too moving to convey right in print.
    • Treves confirming that Merrick's condition is incurable, which he'd held off asking about from fear that this would be the case.
    • Treves realizing he exploited Merrick toward his own ends.
    • An in-universe example: when Dr. Treves sees Merrick for the first time, he is so overcome by his deformity that he stares, face frozen, and lets a single tear roll down his face.
  • The Woobie: John could hardly be more so.