Thursday, August 26, 2010

John Huston

John Huston's Let There Be Light (1946), narrated by his father, actor Walter Huston, is a very polished film (no camera shake, no natural lighting) compared to most documentaries. The film follows the arrival, treatment, and release of a group of shell-shocked veterans at an army mental hospital. Let There Be Light was withdrawn by the US military for about 35 years -- it started to be shown in the early 1980s. It strangely resembles another black and white documentary (also unseen for years) about a mental institution: Titicut Follies, by Frederick Wiseman. In both films, groups of unhappy men sit and stare, everyone is chain-smoking, and in psychiatrist-patient encounters, the doctors show the same arrogance.
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Documentary Starts Here by Nancy Kalow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.