Let There Be Light
August 20, 2012 10:56 AM   Subscribe

"A post-World War II documentary, banned by the military in 1946 but lately released online, is one of the earliest depictions of psychotherapy." Let There Be Light, a film by John Huston.

The film was restored by the National Archives and released in May. (Archival record here).

It is the third of a trilogy of films Huston made during World War II. Report from the Aleutians (containing, at the time, controversial scenes of soldiers' monotonous lives) and The Battle of San Pietro (also controversial for containing scenes of dead soldiers, but defended by General Marshall himself for use as a training film) were the first two.
posted by bluefly (9 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
The San Pietro film was impressive, but unfortunately, not quite numbing.
posted by mule98J at 12:10 PM on August 20, 2012

I am just watching this now. It is really powerful.
I think I am going to weep for a bit.
posted by dougzilla at 12:34 PM on August 20, 2012

It is powerful, especially in today's times with many of our soldiers returning home with PTSD (previously). I wasn't sure how to frame this post, whether to focus on the PTSD/psychotherapy part, but, after watching all 3 films, I think all together they show a full picture of the psychological trauma of war - both the monotony and the violence and death.
posted by bluefly at 12:44 PM on August 20, 2012

I won't have time to dig into this until the weekend, but I'm a huge Huston fan, and had never heard of these, so I'm really looking forward to watching them - thanks.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:37 PM on August 20, 2012

Let There Be Light is also available at the Internet Archive. Fascinating to watch.
posted by XMLicious at 8:10 PM on August 20, 2012

It's also interesting to note that this sparked Huston's interest in psychoanalysis, which led him to direct a biopic on Freud (penned by none other than Jean-Paul Sartre) sixteen years later.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:15 AM on August 21, 2012

Quite a few of Huston's feature films go pretty deep into the human psyche -- I especially love the Mexican films he did with Gabriel Figueroa, Night of the Iguana & Under The Volcano, because they just dig right in to that stuff. They're essentially about haunted men who can't escape from themselves. They're written by very different authors, but the theme, and Huston's treatment of the protagonists is very consistent.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:21 AM on August 21, 2012

I'm really looking forward to watching this. Thanks for posting.
posted by OmieWise at 5:08 AM on August 23, 2012

If you see The Master, see if, like me, you think he stole the psychiatric interviews of soldiers in the beginning from Let There Be Light.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:31 PM on September 19, 2012

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