Bookmarks: The Elephant Man

I don’t remember who wrote the book The Elephant Man on which the movies were based, but I do remember seeing two distinctly different versions of the movie. One was in black and white, and involved prostheses and costumes, and the other…the other creeped me out more because the actor playing John Merrick was not costumed, but playing the part with his naked face, and using only his body language to convey the extreme disfiguration Merrick had to cope with every day.

The latter movie could have been telling a story about someone with severe cystic acne, instead of the bone/skin condition Merrick had, but despite the lack of makeup, the lack of latex body parts and paint, I had no doubt about what I was seeing. Nor did anyone else.

It was my first conscious experience with the power of imagination, of letting the audience (or the reader) fill in the blanks.

I was hooked.

(Update: Amazon says there’s a play by Bernard Pomerance, and a book by Christine Sparks)