In what appears to be another attempt to atone for his earlier sins, this time for the staging San Pietro, or if nothing else, to simply dispel all doubt, Huston is very clear to state up front in the film that, “no scenes were staged.” In the film the psychiatrists try different techniques such as hypnosis, one-on-one sessions and group exercises in an attempt to help the men deal with their psychological problems. The film is very sobering. One soldier thinks that he cannot walk, another cannot remember who he is, another cannot talk, and another claims he suffers from intermittent “crying spells.” In essence, Huston was pushing back against a very powerful narrative in American society at the time, that Americans were tough, not afraid of a fight, and won the war on sheer strength of will. One psychiatrist illustrated the inversion of the narrative Huston was engaged in nicely by criticizing his technique thusly: “I didn’t feel comfortable about the way he conveyed the feeling” he said, “…that we had a lot of weak-willed namby-pambies.” The army, Huston would later say, “wanted to maintain the ‘warrior myth’… which said that our American soldiers went to war and came back all the stronger for the experience.” Huston sought to disrupt this warrior myth, and unmask the lie that would undoubtedly lead to the likelihood of more war in America’s future.
– from the upcoming book “How to Film the Truth: The Story of Documentary Film As a Spiritual Journey” to be released in the Summer of 2018 by Wipf & Stock