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Movie-A-Day #59: The Elephant Man (1980).

February 28, 2011

There are so many things that can go wrong with the human body. Things like cancer, diabetes or hypertension are fairly well known and documented, but there are tens of thousands of other diseases and conditions out there that don’t get the same kind of recognition. They may have symptoms most people have never seen before, or names that many can’t pronounce. But those who live with these conditions every day suffer just the same. That’s why Feb. 28 is Rare Disease Day, with the aim of raising awareness for these diseases and helping patients get the recognition and treatment they need. Perhaps the most high profile sufferer of a rare condition was John Merrick, whose case caused a sensation in Victorian England before his early death in 1890. He was the focus of much derision and exploitation during his lifetime, and even more after his death. Even a century later, Michael Jackson tried to buy his skeleton as a curiosity. But Merrick does get a sympathetic portrayal from David Lynch in “The Elephant Man,” starring John Hurt, who manages to exude loads of humanity from under all those prosthetics.

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