“Johnny Got His Gun” is a movie inspired by the novel of the same name. This 1971 film, directed and written by Dalton Trumbo, is an antiwar drama which is absolutely different from any other of its genre and there has never been any similar to it.
From the memories of his brain, the only body part that functions on its own, we see his past life before he took part in the First World War. He was a young man, having fallen in love with a girl, living with his parents and generally enjoying life as it was before “that” happened.
So, he goes to war and while trying to survive from an enemy bombardment, he steps onto a landmine. What is previously referred to as “that” is the cost of stepping on a landmine. He is left an amputee, having lost both arms and both legs, speech, hearing and eyesight.
Basically he is a “living piece of meat”, kind of cruel to say, I know, but that’s how he calls himself over and over again. He cannot tell whether he is dead and remembering or alive and dreaming, believing the dreams he is having is reality, where he is a healthy man, having everything he has lost, and the reality is a nightmare, in which he sometimes finds it difficult to wake up, since this is the one and only reality. Sadly, he finds out that the exact opposite is happening.
The movie unfolds around him, the mental torture he is going through, the thoughts he is having, his communication with God, and his desire to die, to finally be free of his situation, but he isn’t able to do so.
All the good features of this movie are hard to put in a list because of the many things there are to be commented positively on. First of all, the soundtrack of this movie is a true piece of art. Metallica, the music band, did a great job composing their solo, “One”, which soon became a golden record. Secondly, the acting is outstanding. His trembling voice makes chills run down your spine, while you hear the main actor cursing about his situation, and generally you realize how terrified and worried he is. Finally, the costumes, background and the whole setting exactly suits the era, which cannot be anything else than the Great War.
Regarding the movie and how well it is adapted to what the novel describes, the director has done an astounding job. I have read the novel myself and there is no inaccuracy between the book and the film.
To conclude, if you believe you are old enough to handle all the emotions that will be created then go ahead and watch the movie. If I had the opportunity to watch the movie again, I doubt whether I would do it. I was quite unprepared and the film has scarred me for life, not in a negative way necessarily. What is safe to say is that the movie teaches the most important morals in life with the power of the image, so hopefully no one will ever have to be in the same position of this miserable man…