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Let There Be Light (1946)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 540 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 9 critic

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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Title: Let There Be Light (1946)

Let There Be Light (1946) on IMDb 7.7/10

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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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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

Featured in John Huston War Stories (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A fitting film for Memorial Day...
28 May 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

It was very fitting that I chose today of all days to watch this short film, as today is Memorial Day here in the US--the day we remember and celebrate our veterans. That's because the short film "Let There Be Light" is about combat-related mental illnesses--such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (a label only recently coined). Sadly, after John Huston made this marvelous film, it was pulled--as the government apparently thought it was too much. In other words, since they sponsored the project, they could withhold it from distribution--and they did because, I assume, it acknowledged that there is serious mental damage caused by war (duh!). Why they would think that way is beyond me--the film really is a great tribute to the men who sacrificed and endured so much during WWII.

The film is set at a VA hospital and their psychiatric ward. The story appears to involve real patients--many of whose progress the film follows through their course of treatment. Using a variety of techniques you'd use today (such as group therapy) and those you wouldn't (chemical hypnosis has fallen out of vogue), the film gives a lot of hope to survivors and their families--perhaps too much hope, as the film makes it appear as if the problems can easily be treated and the long-term effects aren't discussed. Still, I loved the film for being so daring and for being confident enough with the subject matter to offer little narration (by the director's famous father, Walter Huston)--and just let folks speak for themselves. A fascinating and touching little film.

By the way, there are a couple interesting things to look for in the film. The Rorschach cards you see are both REAL ones--although the manufacturer has stipulated they cannot be reproduced or shown on film or photos (though you can easily find them on the internet today). I also was surprised to see black and white servicemen together in the hospital--and I hoped they did treat everyone in non-segregated wards at the time. It was also nice to see that the one black g.i. featured in the film was incredibly bright and well-spoken--and nothing like a negative stereotype.


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