Saturday, June 13, 2009

Johnny Got His Gun (Trumbo, 1971)

Johnny Got His Gun is haunting, powerful stuff. A World War I soldier is hit by a mortar shell and loses his arms, his legs and most of his face, leaving him little more than a brain trapped in darkness with his memories, fears and suppositions about what might be going on around him based on what he can feel. The great thing about the film is the way the flashbacks simulate a mind in great distress due to both trauma and the effect of sedatives. The soldier remembers conversations that probably took place, but also imagines others that never could have been - with an anachronistic Christ, his dead father and also his old girlfriend. The film's subject matter is ultra-grim, but the tale never drags because the film making itself - particularly the writing - is bold and alive. Anti-war film, surrealistic nightmare, extreme absurdist consideration of the relationship between mind and body ... it's all of these things. A must see.



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