7.6/10
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21 user 14 critic

Let There Be Light (1946)

A group of mentally traumatized veteran patients is followed as they go through psychiatric treatment.

Director:

John Huston

Writer:

John Huston
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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Walter Huston ... Narrator (uncredited)
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Storyline

A documentary, filmed shortly after the end of WW2, shot entirely in a US Army psychiatric hospital. Candidly shot, the film shows the mental casualties of war - soldiers with PTSD and other neurological issues: their symptoms, how they cope and, if they're lucky, how they are cured. Written by grantss

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Genres:

Documentary | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

E la luce fu See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

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

Narrator: These are the casualties of the spirit, the troubled in mind. Men who are damaged emotionally. Born and bred in peace, educated to hate war, they were overnight plunged into sudden and terrible situations. Every man has his breaking point and these in the fulfillment of their duties as soldiers were forced beyond the limits of human endurance.
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Connections

Featured in Five Came Back: The Price of Victory (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A fitting film for Memorial Day...
28 May 2012 | by MartinHaferSee 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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