I first saw this film back in 1981 at the theater when I was 12. It frightened and saddened me though I cannot say I was really traumatized by it. However, it must have made some sort of emotional impact before I have always been terrified of viewing this film in the 20-plus years that have past since then. The most disturbing aspect to me was the inhumane treatment John Merrick received. Just today I got up my courage and bought the DVD at the music store. I sat, white knuckles and all-expecting the worst. Well, I got through it. For one thing, it didn't seem as ominous this go-round. (Funny how your perceptions change as an adult). The fact that this was a period piece works to the film's benefit in that it hasn't dated at all. I am glad the producers and director agreed to use black-and-white film because it adds to the authenticity. What surprised me most was how much I had actually forgotten: the scene in the monkey cage, the fact that Anne Bancroft appeared, and more. What did always stick in my memory was what I refer to as the "raid" scene. (When the sleazy Night Porter brings his "customers" from the pub to Merrick's room, carrying John around, forcing the cheap tarts to kiss him, and then holding a mirror up to his face to purposely shock him.) Upon viewing The Elephant Man as an adult, my favorite scenes are now the most beautiful yet the saddest ones: when John meets Treeves' wife and says he never meant to be a disappointment to his mother, and the final scene as Merrick carefully takes the pillows off the bed and places them on the table. This film should be mandatory study for all North American high school students. Though even then, I am sure there would be more than a few jaded teens who would find some sort of comedy in it. Those kind are the real freaks.