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Memorial Day special: Let There Be Light

In 1945, legendary director John Huston was assigned by the US Army to make a documentary about men returning from war with “shell shock” or “psychoneurosis” — what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. But after the documentary, “Let There Be Light,” was completed, the Army refused to allow it to be shown and it disappeared from view. It was shown in a poor quality print in 1980, but not widely appreciated by critics.

Now the National Film Preservation Foundation has released a new, restored version of the film, available online. Scott Simmon, professor and chair of English at UC Davis and a well-known film historian, supplied notes for the NFPF site.

“It pioneered unscripted interview techniques to take an unprecedented look into the psychological wounds of war,” Simmon writes. Huston himself called it “the most hopeful and optimistic and even joyous thing I ever had a hand in.”

More coverage: Scott Simmon interviewed in the Washington Post; and on National Public Radio about Let There Be Light.

One Response to Memorial Day special: Let There Be Light

  1. Rob says:

    Was there reasoning behind why the US Army did not allow a documentary about PTSD syndrome? I am glad that this is being shown now but something that as hugely impact full to our Army men as PTSD should have been known as soon as possible!

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