PAUSE IT: What do you see? A single frame captures the horrors of war preserved on several different faces. In director John Huston’s newly released Let There Be Light (1946), soldiers suffering from what would later be known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder scream out silently. Although Huston did stage some scenes (nurses waving, new study groups arriving), much of the film’s power is granted by Huston’s knowledge of when to withhold editorialization. One of Hollywood’s true masters, he would let scenes develop to their uninterrupted conclusions, even occasionally pulling himself and other crew out of the room (as is the case in the film’s spellbinding psychiatric interview scenes). Huston’s ability to meet objective truth with subjective art is the craft of documentary filmmaking at its most powerful.
January 20, 2016