Johnny Got His Gun (film)

Johnny Got His Gun
Johnny Got His Gun poster.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed byDalton Trumbo
Produced byBruce Campbell
Screenplay byDalton Trumbo
Based onJohnny Got His Gun
by Dalton Trumbo
Starring
Music byJerry Fielding
CinematographyJules Brenner
Edited byMillie Moore
Production
company
World Entertainment
Distributed byCinemation Industries
Release date
  • May 14, 1971 (1971-05-14)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$500,000+[1]

Johnny Got His Gun is a 1971 American drama anti-war film written and directed by Dalton Trumbo and starring Timothy Bottoms, Kathy Fields, Marsha Hunt, Jason Robards, Donald Sutherland and Diane Varsi. It was based on the novel of the same title by Trumbo, and features an uncredited writing collaboration by Luis Buñuel. The film was released on DVD in the U.S on April 28, 2009 via Shout! Factory, with special features.

Although Johnny Got His Gun was a minor success at the time of its release, it was largely forgotten soon after by mass audiences. The film became far better known when it was incorporated in the video of Metallica's song "One", whose popularity subsequently turned Johnny Got His Gun into a cult film. Eventually, the members of Metallica bought the rights to the film in order to keep showing the music video without having to pay additional royalty fees.[2]

Plot

Joe Bonham (Bottoms), a young American soldier hit by an artillery shell during World War I, lies in a hospital bed. He is a quadruple amputee who has also lost his eyes, ears, mouth and nose. He remains conscious and able to reason, but his wounds render him a prisoner in his own body. As he drifts between reality and fantasy, he remembers his old life with his family and girlfriend (Kathy Fields). He also forms a bond, of sorts, with a young nurse (Diane Varsi) who senses his plight.

Eventually, Joe tries to communicate to his doctors, via Morse code by tapping his head, saying "help." He wishes for the US Army to put him in a glass coffin in a freak show as a demonstration of the horrors of war. When told that his wish may be impossible to grant, he responds begging to be euthanized, repeatedly saying "kill me."

He ultimately realizes that the Army can grant neither wish, and will leave him in a state of living death. His sympathetic nurse attempts to euthanize him by clamping his breathing tube, but her supervisor stops her before Joe can succumb. Joe realizes that he will never be released from his state of entrapment and he is left alone, weakly chanting, "S.O.S. Help me."

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