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This paper reports field‐induced realignment of a nematic liquid crystal. A thin nematic film, which has a negative dielectric anisotropy, is initially homeotropic. Application of a threshold field parallel to the optic axis distorts the nematic ordering and increases the film's birefringence in certain light‐propagation directions. Experimental results are given for threshold voltage, threshold width, optical contrast ratio, frequency response, angular field of view, electrical power consumption, and transient response. Light‐valve applications are described.