Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • TBC
  • Drama, War
  • 1971
  • 111 mins

Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun

Synopsis

Blacklisted during the McCarthy witch-hunts, director Trumbo resurfaced to direct - based on his own novel - the story of a soldier who loses every faculty, except his reason, after being hit by a shell

About

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.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Jason Robards, Diane Varsi, Donald Sutherland, Timothy Bottoms, Charles McGraw, Marsha Hunt
  • Director: Dalton Trumbo
  • Writer: Dalton Trumbo
  • Producer: Bruce Campbell
  • Photographer: Jules Brenner
  • Composer: Jerry Fielding

In a nutshell

Bizarrely, the story is based on real events, and while this kind of truth is usually too strange to be turned into fiction, Trumbo successfully turns Johnny into the living embodiment of the horror and futility of war - but also of the unquenchable resilience of the human spirit.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Silver Linings Playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in this Oscar-winning romantic dramedy that deals with the implications of a relationship forming in the midst of mental illness

  • Film4 The Wackiest Ship In The Army

    The Wackiest Ship In The Army

    Jack Lemmon stars as a Lieutenant tricked into taking command of a ship full of misfits, tasked with a top secret mission to save hundreds of allied lives

    On Film4: 29 Apr 4:45PM

  • Film4 Silver Linings Playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook on Film4

    Jennifer Lawrence gives an Oscar-winning performance opposite Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell's superior romantic comedy.

  • Film4 The Pact

    The Pact on Film4

    When Annie's sister disappears while organising their mother's funeral in their childhood home, she investigates as an unwelcome presence in the house begins to be felt

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Mike Leigh announces new film, Peterloo

    Mike Leigh's next project will look at Peterloo - the infamous 1819 massacre by government forces at a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter's Field in Manchester, when 700 working people were inju

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Four Film4-backed films selected In Competition at Cannes 2015

    Four Film4-backed films ¿ Todd Haynes¿ Carol, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster, Paolo Sorrentino¿s Youth and Justin Kurzel¿s Macbeth ¿ have been invited into official selection at this year¿s Cannes film

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share