A must watch: “Let there be light”


“Let there be light” is a documentary made by the famous filmmaker John Huston about a group of returning veterans from the war suffering from post-traumatic disorder, displayed in several nervous conditions.

Set on Mason General Hospital on Brentwood, Long Island, the largest mental health facility on the East Coast, the unscripted documentary aimed to help spread awareness about what was called “shell shock” and “psychoneurosis” at the time, break down the stigma and to prove that after mental instability brought by the war, those human beings were normal after psychiatric treatment and ready to rejoin society.

The title “Let there be light” is a reference to the Genesis part of the Bible and refers that the film will reveal truth about a reality previously wrapped in the shadows of ignorance, fear and shame.

This masterpiece was first suppressed by the north American government and only released in the eighties. This decade it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically relevant” and is now in public domain.

Among the beautiful teachings from this raw and moving documentary, there’s one quote from a veteran that stood out for me as he shares his vision and dreams for the future: “We’re going to try our best to make ourselves as best we can. And we feel more confident to grasp this nervous situation that’s come about us and we want to show people that we can do things on our own on the outside, whether we’ve been in a hospital for nerves or wherever we’ve been, whether we’ve lost an arm or a leg, that we can be just as good as anybody else. All I want is that they give us a chance to prove our equality, like they said they were. And I hope they keep their promise. That’s all I hope”.

Paula Gouveia