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“No Place to Go, See”: Blindness and World War II Demobilization Narratives


This article examines the social, medical, and military contexts that shaped the cycle of World War II demobilization films released in the United States between 1946 and 1951. The focus is primarily on the ways in which loss of sight, experienced through combat, was dramatized and narrativized in demobilization films. The discussion specifically concerns two films at either end of the demobilization cycle, Pride of the Marines (1946) and Bright Victory (1951), both of which were adapted from literary texts. Written accounts of war injuries were frequent as sources for demobilization films, partly to lend authenticity to the narratives, but also, in the case of these two films, to offer symbolic freight through which the ontological and medical dimensions of blindness could be explored. The article discusses the ways in which cases of blindness highlighted the problematic of place and home in the mid-1940s. Although the narrative trajectory of many demobilization films moves toward the reintegration of the blinded veteran in post-war society, the article argues that this does not simplify the representation of the troubling medical and social experiences of many World War II soldiers.

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