The final entry in a trilogy of films produced for the U.S. government by John Huston. This documentary film follows 75 U.S. soldiers who have sustained debilitating emotional trauma and ... See full summary »

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The final entry in a trilogy of films produced for the U.S. government by John Huston. This documentary film follows 75 U.S. soldiers who have sustained debilitating emotional trauma and depression. A series of scenes chronicle their entry into a psychiatric hospital, their treatment and eventual recovery. Written by Kieran Kenney

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Documentary | War

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16 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Es werde Licht!  »

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1.37 : 1
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Trivia

A controversial work at the time, this film was suppressed by the United States government for over thirty years after it was produced. See more »

Quotes

Unnamed Soldier: I believe, in your profession, it's called 'Nostalgia'.
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Connections

Alternate-language version of The Master (2012) See more »

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Moving real life story
19 January 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

John Huston's (1946) documentary film was shot at Mason General Hospital on Long Island at the end of the Second World War for the U.S. Government during the director's time as an officer in the U.S. Signal Corps.

One of a number of documentary films he made in this capacity including 'Report From The Aleutians' and 'The Battle of San Pietro', it did not see 'The Light' for a number of years. As copyright holders and owners of the film, the U.S. Government chose not to release it.

The techniques used in making the film are described in John Huston's autobiography 'An Open Book' published by Macmillan and also in an interview recorded by Richard Leacock and Midge McKenzie in 1982.

The film follows the progress of a particular intake of men returning from active service in various theatres of war. These men have returned deeply disturbed by their battle experiences and we follow their progress as they are helped to come to terms with their distress and to rebuild their fragile lives.

Huston captures the most unusual and remarkable sequences that document the work of the gifted psychiatrists at Mason General as they assist the men to reconcile themselves to the awful experiences they have endured.

This film was way ahead of its time in recognising and understanding how conditions that were variously known as 'shell shock' and 'battle fatigue' can respond to treatment and give their unfortunate sufferers a renewed lease of life.

Despite the dated soundtrack, the narration by Huston's own father – Walter – makes the confusing and sometimes disturbing footage accessible and meaningful to the audience.

How tragic that such a well-made and important film should have been kept from us for so long.


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