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Johnny Got His Gun [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Don 'Red' Barry, Timothy Bottoms, Judy Howard Chaikin, Maurice Dallimore, Kathy Fields
  • Format: NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Anchor Bay
  • VHS Release Date: June 3, 1991
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300987787
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,093 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Anti-War Drama

Customer Reviews

It was an awful movie and worth every second watched.
Roy
I strongly recommend this brilliant film even to those people who generally avoid war movies.
Stephen Cannon
I would recommend reading the book as well as watching the film.
Robert Nylin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Cannon on June 13, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I haven't read the book, but I knew the basic plot outline and so when I saw this film, I expected very strong anti-war sentiments to be pervasive throughout the movie. However, even though the main character loses his arms, legs, face and four of his five senses to a mortar in World War I, not a drop of blood is shown in the movie and the film's indictment of the institution of war seems to take a backseat to the young soldier's struggle to adapt to his dark, silent and motionless environment.
I was hesitant to watch this film at first because I thought it would be dull to watch a two-hour movie concerning a horribly maimed young man lying in bed. However, due to his unique condition of being connected to this world only through his sense of touch, I found it fascinating how he first struggles to distinguish his dreams from his reality, and after that tries puts his energy toward discerning the passage of time.
The movie includes a number of dream sequences, which to a man deprived of sight, sound, smell and taste, must certainly at least rival anything that happens during his waking hours in importance. The numerous dream sequences serve to explain his past and shed light on his values. Some of them are quite surreal, some are unhappy while some are fairly humorous.
The ending is grim and the man's predicament is left unresolved, which leaves the viewer to fill in some of the blanks, but this invites the viewer to give the movie some thought after seeing it, and I by no means felt that the movie was left so open-ended that I felt like I had been shortchanged.
I strongly recommend this brilliant film even to those people who generally avoid war movies.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By James Morris on February 9, 2009
Format: DVD
In 1971 I was 17, and a budding "hippie" with anti-war leanings and a rebel streak a mile long. While riding the NYC subway to work one day, I noticed a young man about my age absorbed in a book as he rode next to me. The title of the book was Johnny Got His Gun. "Probably some right-wing adolescent shoot-`em-up war epic", I thought to myself, dismissing the teen and his book from my mind. A few weeks later, I read an article in the newspaper that a film was being made of the book Johnny Got His Gun, and I was instantly embarrassed at my previous assumption of the book's subject matter when I read that Johnny Got His Gun was actually a pacifist anti-war classic, and that its author, Dalton Trumbo, had been blacklisted as a communist during the 1950's. A few days later, I ran across the book in my favorite bookstore, and picked it up almost without thinking.

I was immediately blown away by the intense imagery of the narrative's storyline. Joe Bonham, an 18-year old soldier, is hit by a bombshell on the last day of WWI, and awakes in a hospital bed horribly deformed. Unable to speak, see, hear, or smell, he gradually learns that his arms and legs have been amputated. As the horror of his situation unfolds in a stream-of-consciousness first person narrative, he slowly realizes that the bomb shell that hit him scooped out his face, leaving a gaping hole where his eyes, ears, nose and mouth used to be. The army doctors automatically assume he is a thoughtless vegetable, and in an experimental effort to see if they can keep someone in his condition alive, he spends the next several years in a hospital bed, well cared-for but practically forgotten. Joe is constantly thinking but unable to communicate.
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93 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Glenn A. Buttkus on August 4, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This is a significant film that has reached cult status. Dalton Trumbo wrote the novel in 1938, won the National Book Award, and then the book was banned as subversive. Trumbo suffered a polemic from HUAC in 1949, and spent a year in jail for contempt of congress. The book was banned again in 1950, during the Korean War. Kirk Douglas brought him out of exile in 1960 to write the screenplay for SPARTACUS. In 1970, Trumbo directed this film himself, adapted from his own book, and it emerged as a scathing anti-war allegory. When the film opened, it did poorly at the box office in America. The Viet Nam war had clouded the issue. Perhaps if he had included more humor and satire in the picture it would have been easier to digest. Watching it is like drinking white lightning; it burns all the way down.

In 1989, the rock group Metallica released a 7 minute video called TWO OF ONE, and it did use clips from this film. This helped to generate more interest in the movie. The cinematography was above average, done by Jules Brenner, nicely blending B&W, sepia, and full color scenes.

We are introduced in the opening scene to a group of doctors discussing a decerebrated patient, a grievously wounded soldier, assumed to be brain dead; incapable of sentience or dreams; just an armless, legless, faceless, totally deaf living chunk of meat with a beating heart and an active colon. But we soon hear the soldier's voice, and realize he is aware of his environment.

Timothy Bottoms, in his film debut, played the young soldier, Joe Bonham. He did an exceptional job with the voice over work, and we get to see him in the flesh in flashbacks; even the moment he crouched in the trenches, readying himself for his rendezvous with the howitzer shell that had his name on it.
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