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Cranky Cuss

Cranky Cuss
Ossining, New York, United States
February 28
I am the author of "Send In the Clown Car: The Road to the White House 2012," currently available on Amazon and CreateSpace. I'm currently semi-retired after 23 years in a corporate environment. My motto: The conventional wisdom has too much convention, not enough wisdom. Corollary: Even Einstein was wrong sometimes, and you're not Einstein.


MAY 27, 2012 6:35PM

For Memorial Day: "Let There Be Light"

Rate: 22 Flag




              let there be light 

In 1945, John Huston filmed a documentary about returning World War II veterans suffering from what was then called shellshock, but which we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.  The resulting film, Let There Be Light, was stunning in its blunt portrayal of soldiers displaying nervous tics or relentless stuttering or suffering from amnesia, loss of motor skills or other psychosomatic disorders.


Too stunning, perhaps, because the U.S. Army banned public showings for decades, going so far as to seize a copy from Huston moments before he was to show it at the Museum of Modern Art.  Apparently, they were concerned that nobody, having seen what up-close combat could do to the minds of ordinary American citizens, would ever enlist in the armed forces.  In 1947, the Army filmed a cleaned-up version of Huston’s documentary, using actors with scripted dialogue which downplayed the severity of the problem. It was also notable that the cast of the Army version was lily-white; the soldiers seen in Huston’s film were a racial mixture.


In 1980, the Army finally approved a showing for a Los Angeles retrospective of Huston’s films, and it has circulated in poor-quality prints ever since.  In 2010, it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry.  A high-quality copy of the film is now available for streaming or download for three months at the National Film Preservation Society website.


On the weekend we honor those who gave their lives for their country, it is worthwhile to spend 58 minutes with Huston’s film. Although some of the onscreen recoveries seem too easy, try watching the GIs treated with hypnosis or sodium amytal for having forgotten their identity or losing the ability to speak clearly without being alarmed at what war can do to one’s lucidity.  Try watching the African-American soldier suddenly breaking down in tears while discussing his sweetheart without feeling the normal human decency of all of the patients.  Try watching the soldier whose brain had shut down his legs during combat later circling the bases during a softball game without realizing how much these men, once recovered, still had to offer to the country.


Try watching the film without thinking: May we never subject our youths to these horrors ever again. 



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This is timely. The 3 of us will watch it together. Thanks, Richard, very much! r.
I believe the term "Shell Shock" was first used during the First World War. Doctors believed that the symptoms exhibited by soldiers after combat was due to their close proximity to the giant barrages of artillary used by both sides. They believed the concussions of those prolonged blasts affected the brain.

Now we know differently don't we. As one who has been subjected to long and prolonged artillary barrages I can tell you they are nothing when compared to long and prolonged savagery we humans inflict upon each other in the name of political philosphy and the furthering of the interests of which ever big business that stands to profit at the moment.
This is good news, indeed. And about time we got back to the realities of war over any supposed "glory."
Great work, Cranky. This one actually brought tears to my eyes.
So Rated
Apparently half the Army and most of the Marine Corps still denies the effects of PTSD, despite directives from the highest level of command... excellent post.
I can hardly imagine what most World War II veterans went through. I always assumed that their reluctance to talk about it was because they wanted to forget. This makes me wonder if it also wasn't part of their discharge orders.
Ahhhhh you ol' Cussed Crank, you got me !

In the back of my mind is a hidden question though. I wonder how many other who watched that film have the same question. It is....

"What of those who didn't respond so perfectly to the psychiatric treatment? What became of them?"

We know that there were many whom the doctors could not help. We know that there are many whom the doctors cannot help today. Young men & women so badly damaged that they cannot be repaired so easily as those shown in the film.

Where are those lost souls.........?
I never knew this and just read this to Steve. So many coverups.. Have to see this.
Was unaware of this and its history. Thanks, Crank.
I've actually seen this film as I have written about post-traumatic stress disorder in the course of my consulting and share your hope that we never subject our young people to such again.
I'd heard of this buy never knew the backstory, so thanks very much for the post Cranky.
Sigh. There are some days, Cranky, when I think we have all been duped all our lives. I guess there always have been and always will be men/women behaving badly "for the good of the country."

Thank you. I'll get a look at this.
Thank you CC.
There are so many stories we have been told about the returning soldiers and their inability to reintegrate into their old suroundings.
Too many did not return home,and the loss of those could never be overcome.It left a void in many families.
Tink Picked and Rated!!!
When I first saw the title I was reminded of Jacques Luysseran's first book "And there was light".
Jacques had built up a circle of resistane in France against the Hitler regime.Because of betrayal,many of the members were incarcerated and killed.J.L.survived the concentration camp.
Thank you fro posting this.If I find the time I will look into the second movie.

Jacques Lusseyran- Poetry in Buchenwald - YouTube

► 7:06► 7:06
4. Mai 2010 - 7 Min. - Hochgeladen von 9macrina9
Re to Book: ...
Shoot, man, I've never heard of this film. Thank you for directing me to it -- I promise I'll watch it.

It's hard to believe, but airmen in the RAF and RCAF in the Second War who simply couldn't take it any more were demoted and had "LMF" entered in their paybooks: Lack of Moral Fibre, a stigma they would carry for the rest of their lives, in addition to the PTSD.

In the First War, men were shot -- "pour encourager les autres" -- for shell shock that led to desertion. I've seen footage from hospitals of that era of those suffering the effects. It's horrifying.
I will try to watch it later. Thanks for the link.
Thank you for letting us know about this film. I will check it out. I believe everyone should watch it.
I couldn't watch the entire gave me the shakes, but I will. I've always liked Huston's work.

I couldn't help but think about a young man I met years ago and many years after the Vietnam War had ended. No matter what the subject matter, all those years later everything for him related to the war. It doesn't end because we lay down our arms.
I don't have an hour before work, but will view this when I get home. Fitting tribute Cranky. Thank you.
When my father died, at 51, he looked like a 70 plus year old man. Depression, alcoholism and unemployment had eaten away at him. But also came the new diagnosis from the VA- PTSD. Unfortunately the new psych meds probably pushed his heart over the edge, but before then, there was no recognition that this was a valid diagnosis.
He wasn't completely out of his mind, and he functioned a long time as well he could. There were many things he could never talk to us about, and I am sure were the very things he dreamed of that would wake him up shouting or flip on a switch of rage. On this Memorial Day, I am thankful that in my family, we have all become committed pacifists- and also committed to helping improve the lives of others. I wish I could have given him peace of mind before he died, I don't think he ever really knew it.
How did I miss this? Excellent post, Cranky. Well deserved RP.
I think you may be the first recipient of two RP's; you're definitely the first to do so in a single post.

I actually watched this all the way through, then followed a link to watch most of Huston's film on the battle in Italy. Thank you.That this was real footage is amazing. I also loved listening to the speech at that time, given that it wasn't scripted - all these ordinary guys speaking more articulately than you'd expect now and with strong NY accents (the hospital was on Long Island).
I didn't know about this film. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It sounds heartbreaking and very, very important.