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With: Walter Huston, John Huston, James Stewart
Written by: John Huston
Directed by: John Huston
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 281
Date: 02/04/2016

Let There Be Light (1946)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

War Casualties

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Olive Films has released an essential Blu-ray, collecting all four of John Huston's wartime documentaries on one disc. These are: the relatively innocuous recruiting film Winning Your Wings (1942), featuring James Stewart; The Oscar-nominated Report from the Aleutians (1943), featuring (staged) battle footage, as well as footage of a bombing; San Pietro (1945), about a battle in a small village in Italy; and the powerful Let There Be Light (1946). That last one was an early example of how emotional stress in wartime can be just as incapacitating as physical injuries, but the military banned it, and it went unseen for decades.

The great film critic James Agee reviewed these films as they came out. He called Report from the Aleutians "sullenly beautiful" and San Pietro "magnificent." "It is in every way as good a war film as I have seen; in some ways it is the best." Of Let There Be Light he said that it was an "intelligent, noble, fiercely moving short film about combat neurosis and some of the more spectacular kinds of therapy" and "will probably never be seen by the civilian public for whose need, and on whose money, it was made."

The disc also includes raw camera footage from San Pietro, and Shades of Gray, the re-shot version of Let There Be Light. It also includes a helpful introduction that puts all the films into perspective and explains their historical importance.

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