JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN (1971 CFF Cannes France)

Ben Meyers’ rating: 2.8|5.0 Stars ìì

Johnny Got His Gun—a psychological drama—plays like an experimental movie for a film festival. World War I soldier Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms) has been hit by an artillery shell and has lost all four of his limbs as well as his mouth, eyes, ears, and nose which leaves him with no means of communicating with the world. While I love Dalton Trumbo’s script writing (Exodus, Spartacus, Roman Holiday, Hawaii), this film makes me think Dalton Trumbo took a bet that he could not write a script where the main character does not move or talk or have stage presence (due to being completely covered in bandages) and hold an audience’s attention for 111 minutes. Dalton wrote the script; I’m uncertain how many people watched it through its entirety. The film reminds me of the last experimental film I watched (and gagged on): Rubber. Dalton’s concept for Johnny Got His Gun is interesting for about 10 minutes. And, if you think the film is really PG-rated, think again. It’s no less than PG-13 for nudity and graphic war scenes. With this film, Dalton does address two serious issues: 1) What does the mind do when it has no means to output/actuate thoughts? and 2) Should a person in this situation, without real quality of life, be forced to live when he doesn’t want to live? Or, is a person’s life his own to decide to leave or to keep?

Additional Thanks

Cast includes: Kareen (Kathy Fields), Joe’s Mother (Marsha Hunt), Lucky (Sandra Brown Wyeth), Colonel/General Tillery (Eduard Franz), and Donald Sutherland (Christ).

Buy a ticket? Yes? No? Maybe?

Maybe. This movie performs more as an artistic effort than entertainment.

Ben Meyers

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