Go Toward the Light (TV Movie 1988) Poster

(1988 TV Movie)

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Into the light
kapelusznik1826 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Sad and extremely touching movie about a family facing the death of their 8 year old son Ben, Joshua Harris, an hemophiliac who contracted AIDS in a tainted blood transfusion. Ben who has less then a year to live with his parents Claire & Greg Madison, Linda Hamilton & Richard "John-Boy" Thomas, trying to make Ben's last days of life filled with enough love and understanding-the death experience-that would make him forget what's soon to take him away from them.

Not at all easy to watch but like Ben were made to understand that death isn't the end but a new beginning for those, that's all of us, who end up facing it and it's only the living that suffer in losing a loved one to it with the person that's soon to be gone being been released from the suffering that he or she is going through. By the time that death finally overtakes little Ben he as well as everyone around him have accepted his fate knowing that his suffering-From the ravages of the AIDS virus- has finally ended for him as well as themselves.

Not as dark and depressing as most films-Like "Love Story"-about a person facing death with us knowing what the end would be almost as soon as the movie opens with Ben's parents and friends of the family attending his funeral. It's in the long flashback that gets us to know the causes of Ben's death that really makes the movie so touching and able to sit through. Eevn Ben's dad Greg loses it late in the film by suffering sever depression at home and at his job as a home builder over his son Ben's fate and almost ending up in the hospital himself. It takes an extreme amount of strength and courage for Greg and his wife Claire to see the whole thing,their son Ben's impending death, through with the kindly and also suffering from depression and sleep deprivation Uncle George, Ned Beatty, a carpenter by trade constructing Ben's coffin for the brave and tragic little boy's final sendoff.
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cosmic_quest22 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I watched this film, I must have been about nine or ten and even at that age, I sobbed my heart out. To this day, it remains the saddest film I've ever seen.

The film revolves around eight-year-old Ben Madison, a haemophiliac who contracted AIDS from an infected blood transfusion. As Ben bravely copes with all that his devastating illness forces upon him, his parents are fighting two battles. They have to struggle to accept the fact their young son was terminally ill yet remain strong enough to prepare him for his own death but they are also fighting the ignorance of how AIDS was perceived in the Eighties.

'Go Toward the Light' has many emotive scenes: notably, Ben's funeral where his mother recounts how her son's life may have been short but he had made his mark on the world, when Ben's father explains to his three young sons about what happens to the soul after death, and the final scene where Ben dies in his parents' arms. What makes this film unique is that it's not all depressing and, by depicting happier scenes, we feel closer to Ben and his family. We shared their joy when Ben is able to come home for his new brother's birth and when the Madisons' newborn son was haemophiliac-free. We get a sense of how close the family is by the large role the grandparents play in Ben's life (his grandfather poignantly made Ben's coffin) and the love Ben feels for his family, especially his brothers (one bittersweet moment is when his younger brother says he was visited by a ghostly Ben in the hours before Ben's death).

For a TV film, not only was the script excellent but so were the actors. Young Joshua Harris must have been a talented child actor in his time given his affecting performance as Ben while Linda Hamilton and Richard Thomas were perfect as the parents, depicting their grief, strength and love for their son and his plight.

I highly recommend this to not only people seeking a good gut-wrenching drama (as there is nothing more gut-wrenching than watching this film and knowing this was a true story that happened to a real little boy and his family) but also for older children and teenagers seeking a more meaningful view of AIDS and its consequences.
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The saddest movie of my life
Andreas_N11 January 2006
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.
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rdh-64 December 1999
superb performance by young Ben. Excellent also by parents especially Greg, Richard Thomas.
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helpful to kids
xffanatic_4ever18 March 2001
I saw this movie for the first time when I was about 11. I didn't really understand the effects of AIDS on a person or on their family. This very touching movie really opened my eyes to what was going on all around me. I have grown up and never forgotten this movie (I still cry when I see it on TV), and I wish other kids could see this movie and get the same message I did out of it. I also realized that people with AIDS shouldn't be stereotyped and are just like everyone else (I felt so sorry when the school wouldn't let Ben back into school because of people's ignorance). Richard Thomas' explanation of death/a soul is also very helpful for a child with questions. Sad yet necessary film. Beautifully acted by everyone in the cast. Especially the actor who played young Ben, who was confused but very brave in his fight.
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So sad
Dave-28619 November 2005
Children dying ... Hollywood has produced tearjerkers, depressing and uplifting versions of the story, naive ones, and this movie contains a bit of all of that. But I'm not saying this in a negative way ... the movie tries to do its best to tell the story in 90 minutes, and there will be few who don't feel coming up a tear or two while watching. It's definitely a "Hollywood TV movie", and it does have the look and feel of one. It's also a movie from the 80's, and that starts showing. But the message remains a powerful one : kids die too, and saying goodbye is painful. Aids can kill, and still scares people away. Force can be found in the medical world, in religion, and most importantly in one's own family.
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The best
aszydlowska9 February 2001
If you like sad stories about the children, this one is the best. I watched this movie 5 times and every time I cried. If you know where I can buy this movie , please contact me.
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Very touching and sad story
johnmtracy14 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie back in high school at age 16 and there was not a dry eye in the classroom at the end of the movie when Ben died of AIDS complications, and if I remember correctly, it was a true story. The most touching scene to me was when their fourth child was born and Ben, who was the oldest of the four boys, including the newborn, got to see him before he died. The found out that their newest son did not have hemophilia, where the blood does not clot if someone with this gets a cut. He can bleed to death if it is not treated with platelet transfusions. Ben and the other two sons did have hemophilia, and it was from a platelet transfusion that Ben got AIDS.
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Sad movie
Born_New_Yorker12 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very sad movie about a family dealing with a vicious killer. It is even sadder when the victim is a child. Ben struggles with this disease along with struggling to maintain his human dignity. Ben finally comes to grips with condition. It is hard to see his body deteriorate. This is sad documentation of the tragedy of AIDS. This cruel killer does not care who its victim is or how old. This is a good film that shows the strength of the human spirit during such extreme tragedy.

Spoiler. alert:

One high point was is 9th birthday when Ben was surrounded by friends and family who loved him

The saddest part ,in which I will never forget, was when Ben was in his mother's lap and his body violently jolted forward struggling to maintain life at the precise moment his heart stopped beating. Ben took in one last gasping breath and died in his mother's arms. As she held the lifeless body of her son she told him that she loved him.
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How strong do young actors have to be?
kubinki493 December 2006
Having watched the outstanding performance of young Joshua Harris as Ben (being a mother of two young sons myself) I am wondering - this theme and this sort of acting must surely leave a mark on the child? How was Joshua Harris prepared for this film and how did he cope in normal life? Enacting the story of Ben must surely have left a deep - I think lifelong - impression of the saddest kind on Joshua Harris, perhaps even inflicting damage on such a tender soul, damage that cannot be healed. I would never have one of my children act in such a story. I do not say this to shield young children from sadness, I say this to shield them from unnecessary pain.

Nevertheless - a compelling film.
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Hemophilia and Aids
jess-steed9 May 2006
I saw this movie many times as a child, my mom had recorded it on TV. It is about a family with 3 children, all boys with hemophilia. The oldest gets AIDS from the medicine he takes to help his blood clot. Back before 1985, the medicine was derived from pooled human blood, unscreened for diseases like HIV or HepC. Imagine my surprise to deliver my first child in 2002 and find him diagnosed with hemophilia, which wasn't inherited from my parents. This movie was all the information I had about hemophilia and it was so sad. Luckily, my son's life is nothing like that of the Ben in the movie. Yet, it is a good reminder of the pain the hemophilia community endured because of poor medical treatment. I'd like to find a way to get a copy of this movie.
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Made me scurred yo
sacharia7919 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this on TV when I was about nine. I wasn't allowed to watch The Terminator when I was that age so all I knew Linda Hamilton from was Beauty and the Beast (This was before T2). It's kind of my archetype for what I think of as an 80's Disease of the Week TV movie and it was pretty effective. I think if I watched it now it would be a good indicator of how perceptions of the disease have changed. The moment that really got to me as a child was when the grandfather (I think it was Ned Beatty) was building a coffin in the garage while the kid was still alive. It was hard as nine year old to be confronted with my own mortality.
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Re: Go Towards The Light.......
jlbm20041 December 2005
This is far and away one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen without question. Linda Hamilton gives one of the most touching and poignant performances of her career; in fact, the entire cast is outstanding!!!! I recently ordered the DVD, and received it yesterday, Nov. 30th, and have already watched it several times; it is a movie I could never tire of. It should serve as an anthem for all parents of seriously ill children no matter the nature of the illness, and a guideline of how to cope and accept. Bravo to all who were a part of it!!!!! This movie is truly a gift!!!!! This is a must see movie for all parents; no, for all families, because it has such a precious and loving message to share with the audience. I first became acquainted with this movie on Movie Plex on True Story Saturday several years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since. I LOVE IT!!!!
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