Dec 30, 2009
Johnny Got His Gun

Given my nasty comments on Dalton Trumbo that I made here and here, you’ve got to expect that I’m going to give this film not just a thumb but all five fingers straight down. You’re right, of course.

Trumbo wrote the original novel sometime in the 1930s, and suppressed it during the war years. It’s noteworthy that the idea that WW I was a capitalistic plot was pretty much the party line in the 1930s, and that there was widespread pacifism during that time. In 1941, when Hitler invaded Russia, the party line on war changed, and Trumbo, being the good little Stalinist that he was, and that he remained, changed with the times.

The plot, such as it is, centers around a WW I soldier who is horribly wounded. He has all of his limbs amputated, and a good portion of his face is blown away. He is mistakenly taken for being in a persistent vegetative state. He is finally able to communicate by banging in his head in Morse code. He proposes that his body be exhibited to show people the effects of war, and thereby prevent wars in the future.

There are numerous flashbacks and dream sequences or hallucinations throughout the film.

What is disquieting about a film like this or The Boy With Green Hair is the naivete in thinking that simple things, such as showing a kid’s green hair, or a blasted body, will somehow, miraculously put an end to war. The 600,000 dead or wounded subsequent to the cessation of hostilities in 1865 did nothing to prevent the Spanish-American war or WW I. Veterans from previous wars, some horribly maimed, were ever present reminders of the horrors of war. Such simple minded nonsense will not put an end to war.

The film is fairly crass, simple-minded propaganda.