A young American soldier Johnny (Bottoms) hit by a shell on the last day of the First World War, lies in a hospital bed, a quadruple amputee who has lost his eyes, ears, mouth and nose. His only means of communication is by banging his head against his pillow.
Despite such inertia, writer-director Trumbo (who wrote Spartacus for Kubrick) nevertheless gets inside his head by means of a series of flashbacks and fantasy sequences: we learn about Johnny's failed shoe salesman father, his first (and last) night with the woman he loves; his pre-war job in the local bakery. There's also a strangely moving monologue with Jesus Christ (Sutherland).
What's it all about? Well it's a damning indictment of war, obviously, and a strange one at that. But it's also a metaphysical examination of what it is to be human - the absence of limbs and features in no way extinguishes Johnny's imperishable humanity - and in this case the mind definitely rules the body rather than vice versa.