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Go Toward the Light (1988)

Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie 1 November 1988
A young couple faces the realities of life with their child who is diagnosed with AIDS.


Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claire Madison
Joshua Harris ...
Ben Madison
Gary Bayer ...
Dr. Gladstone
Mitchell Allen ...
Greg Madison
Brian Lando ...
Ryan McWhorter ...
Jack Tate ...
2nd Doctor


A young couple faces the realities of life with their child who is diagnosed with AIDS.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Go to the Light  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ben Madison: Grandma, would you be mad at me if I died?
Margo: Of course not.
Ben Madison: Do you think Mom and Dad would be mad at me?
Margo: Honey, you didn't do anything wrong. They could never be mad at you.
Ben Madison: But they've had me so long, they'd miss me so much.
Margo: Of course, they would miss you. But they love you very much and they could never, ever be mad at you.
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User Reviews

The saddest movie of my life
11 January 2006 | by (Klagenfurt, Austria) – See all my reviews

Go Toward the Light is one of the most powerful movies I know. It circles around one major theme, and it gains all its strength and emotional power from the tragedy it elaborates on.

Go Toward the Light is the true story of Claire and Greg Madison (Linda Hamilton and Richard Thomas) and their struggle with the knowledge that their oldest son, Ben, has contracted AIDS. This hits the family with almost destructive brutality. According to the doctors, Ben has less than a year to live. As painful as it is, Claire and Greg have to accept Ben's unalterable fate. They have to put aside their own overwhelming grief and fears and prepare Ben to face his approaching death with the same love and courage with which they had been preparing him for life.

It is pretty obvious from the premise itself that this movie is emotionally very affecting. The entire movie deals with nothing but Ben's approaching death. At the very beginning the audience is introduced to the family. All three boys of the Madisons are hemophiliacs. This alone is a challenge, but Claire and Greg have always tried very hard to raise their boys as normally as possible. When Ben is diagnosed with AIDS, the emotional impact on the parents is vast, almost destructive. The main part of the movie deals with Ben himself, how his physical condition increasingly deteriorates, how he gradually loses all his vitality and strength, and how he emotionally deals with the knowledge of being destined to die in a few months.

There is nothing more painful than witnessing a child's death. This alone is tremendously depressing. Just because it is not right. It is simply not right. It must have been a very challenging task for Joshua Harris to play Ben. A kid his age does not reflect a lot about death and pain. A kid his age is supposed to live a happy, adventurous and vivid life. When you stop and think about what Ben will never experience, how much he will never do and see, you feel so sorry for him and his family. The movie drags you into the inner circle of the family and makes the emotional suffering and the pervading grief so authentic and painful that I had the feeling of icy fingers embracing my heart.

Linda Hamilton and Richard Thomas do justice to the movie's theme and the emotional challenge for them as Ben's parents. We occasionally get to hear Claire's thoughts, which belong to the saddest but also the wisest inner monologues I have ever heard. This inside look into her mind adds substantial depth to the movie and makes it even more convincing. Greg, Ben's father, deals with the whole tragedy on a different level; he denies it much longer than Claire. In the end he feels like dying himself and gets panic attacks, as the emotional pressure intensifies.

The movie's heart and soul though is Joshua Harris' portrayal of Ben. As I have already indicated, this role is very demanding for such a young actor. It is awful to watch him physically deteriorate. Every shot, every camera glimpse, every minute he gets more fragile and pale. He is handling his character with so much genuine commitment that his struggle becomes even more painful and so authentic that you feel for him every single time you see his handsome face, his weary eyes and his emaciated body. When he asks his mom if he would die, his facial expressions are subtle but outstandingly genuine, as is his entire performance.

This movie is the saddest I have ever seen in my life so far. It centers around this single tragedy. Its transformation is thoroughly convincing. The effects on the family, on Claire and Greg, on Ben's brothers and on his grandparents are implemented with masterly sensitivity and smashing subtlety. It focuses around death and how a young couple has to face the ultimate test of their love and strength. Seeing your boy die and holding him in your hands when he goes towards the light – being with him when he leaves this world as you were with him when he made his first breath – this is the most painful experience for any parent. Because it is not right. This landmark drama, like none before, based on a real family's experience, brings this emotionally challenging issue to the fore – with dear compassion and remarkable wisdom that will leave you emotionally scarred.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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