Let There Be Light documents the efforts of various scientists and engineers working to create a nuclear fusion reactor, particularly the organization ITER, an international venture building a giant machine called a tokamak in Southern France in what would be the world’s largest science experiment once completed.
Let There Be Light might not be an advocacy documentary like An Inconvenient Truth and the host of eco-docs that sprang up in the late aughts, but it still plays into the tradition started by that film. In its opening moments, Michel Laberge, founder of General Fusion, warns that human beings are like yeast in their relationship with the earth, eating up all the resources until there’s nothing left but waste. For Laberge, and the other scientists that directors Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko document in Let There Be Light, fusion is the means of saving humanity from its own worst impulses.
Let There Be Light is a survey of the various efforts to achieve fusion around the globe, from massive organizations like ITER to dogged individuals like Laberge. Much of the film is devoted to the various theories for achieving fusion, depicting historical episodes through charming animated sequences, or explaining complicated theories through clear diagrams and animations. The quick pace, vivid animations, and directors’ clear appreciation for the science does a lot to make up for the inherent dryness of the material.