Newly-Restored Documentary Sheds Light on PTSD
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A film shot in 1945 by John Huston called 'Let There Be Light' gives viewers a unique, intimate look at the PTSD struggles of WWII veterans.


Could a post-WWII-era film be key to understanding PTSD and its historical significance? A newly-restored documentary from 1945  about WWII veterans transition back home sheds light on today’s soldiers’ struggles. Here’s a clip from “Let There Be Light.” “These are the casualties of 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.” The film was preserved and re-released by the National Film Preservation Foundation. According to that organization, the film was produced by the US Army, but later censored for its exposure of PTSD -- which went by shell-shock or “psychoneurosis” back then. Here’s how the foundation describes the film. “John Huston’s World War II documentary Let There Be Light is so legendary for its censorship controversy that its sheer power as a film has been easy to miss. … This new restoration finally reveals the film’s full force. … such sympathetic examinations of the condition were swept under the rug until after the Vietnam era.” MSNBC reports the film was first released in 1980, but was in such poor quality that audio was difficult to hear. With a new release, MSNBC says the film has a new lease on life. It explains why the film was so innovative, and effective. “It uses unscripted footage of doctors treating patients -- unheard of for such films at the time -- and is shot and lit like a major Hollywood movie. It also broke ground by showing both black and white soldiers freely mixing at the hospital, sharing both group therapy sessions and playing sports together.” You can watch the full film at the National Film Preservation Foundation’s website.