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The Elephant Man (1980) Director – David Lynch

There is very little I can add to any analysis or opinion of this scene and it’s constituent film without diminishing it’s emotional power. It is on of the most moving scenes in cinema; a lesson in the art acting, directing, photography, scoring and editing that makes Oliver Stone‘s appropriation of the music used here, Samuel Barbers iconic Adagio for Strings ¬†for his Oscar winning Platoon in 1986 seem clumsy, graceless and second hand.

Maybe that’s unfair but I’ve always felt Barber’s intensely sad piece was used more artfully in Lynch‘s film. Having discovered The Elephant Man in my late teens after having see that iconic scene in Platoon of Willem Dafoe‘s Elias dying Christ like in a hail of bullets numerous times, I soon found it difficult to separate Barber’s music from The Elephant Man and his poignantly rendered story. Stone’s emotional pleading in that scene suddenly felt somewhat fraudulent. I don’t know why.

Just on an intuitive level, this final death scene in The Elephant Man seemed more earnest, more true and heartfelt; the work of a true artist and his talented collaborators somehow transcending and navigating beyond the intellectual towards the spiritual, entering directly into one’s heart and soul untainted by cynicism.