Thursday, September 11, 2008

JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN (Dalton Trumbo, 1971, USA)
"Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun
Johnny, show the Hun you're a son-of-a-gun
Hoist the flag and let her fly
Yankee Doodle do or die
Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit
Yankee to the ranks from the towns and the tanks
Make your Mother proud of you
And the old red-white-and-blue"
from "Over There" by George Cohan (1917)

To make an anti-war film one only has to make an honest statement about war...and this film is about as brutal and honest as you will ever experience. It is a shame that this DVD is available only as a region 2 PAL import so, if you have a region-free player, you should order this immediately! Dalton Trumbo adapted and directed this from his own novel resulting in a masterpiece of surreal structure and performances, an ironical homage to the popular song bleeding with patriotic fervor. Joe Bonham is a young god-fearing man who voluntarily marches of to war because his divinely inspired country defines his morality; it is the patriotic thing to do. But he becomes the harsh reality of war; his limbs blown off and all physical sense destroyed...except his sharp mind. He exists in the dim world of recollection and memory but attempts communication with the outside world, to gain partnership with sanity. But the Army refuses to acknowledge the monster it has created and Joe, who prays for death, is left floating in a maddening purgatory, alone, isolated, and afraid. Remember, we are experiencing the film through Joe's traumatized mind so the stiff, rigid dialogue is reflective of his damaged revisionist memory. Even Jesus Christ fails Joe, as all mythical figures do, unable to ease his suffering or offer release. Sad, terrifying, and unfortunately just as relevant today as it was during the Great War. (A)

No comments: