World War II-Era Film in NLM Collection Named to National Film Registry

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The motion picture, Let There Be Light (1946), an early generation of which is held in the collections of the National Library of Medicine, has been named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Directed by multiple Oscar-winner John Huston, Let There Be Light was commissioned by the United States Army Signal Corps. It was photographed at the Edgewood State Hospital, Deer Park, Long Island, NY between 1944 and 1946. Edgewood State Hospital was part of Mason General Hospital, a psychiatric hospital run by the United States War Department.

The Pentagon banned Let There Be Light from public distribution for 35 years due to its frank depiction of psychological trauma among combat veterans. About 20% of all battle casualties in the American army during World War II were of a neuropsychiatric nature. Let There Be Light film shows how these casualties were treated by techniques of hypnosis and narcotics. As the opening statement of the film recounts: "No scenes were staged. The cameras merely recorded what took place in an Army Hospital."...

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