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: Charles McGraw, Diane Varsi, Jason Robards, Marsha Hunt, Timothy Bottoms, Donald Sutherland
  • 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 Gone Too Far

    Gone Too Far

    Two estranged teenage brothers, one who grew up in Nigeria and one who frew up in Peckham, meet for the first time and struggle to accept each other

    On Film4: 10 Jul 11:10PM

  • Film4 The Three Stooges

    The Three Stooges

    The Farrelly Brothers pay tribute to The Three Stooges as Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos bring a new take on Larry, Curly and Moe

    On Film4: 4 Jul 7:10PM

  • Film4 Kick Ass

    Summer Action Season 2015 on Film4

    Twelve nights of blockbuster action and adventure, every night from 9 on Film4

  • Film4 Arbitrage

    Arbitrage on Film4

    Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling star in a drama about a hedge fund manager who makes a crucial error while attempting to sell his portfolio

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share