Johnny Got His Gun

Yesterday I finally got around to watching the movie on which Metallica’s One is based1. I knew it to be a moderately well-known anti-war movie, but I hadn’t expected it to be this impressive.

The music video sums up the plot of the movie very well. But just like it’s impossible to sum up Apocalypse Now with the Ride of the Valkyries, the movie is worth watching on it’s own.

What I didn’t know about all of this, though, is that the 1971 movie is directed by it’s screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who first published the book back around 1938. The beginnings of WWII in Europe apparently prompted him to write the story, which is set in the time of WWI itself.

Almost more interesting than those details is, that partially due to his political writings, Trumbo was on the Hollywood Blacklist for years. In response to the blacklist, a black market appeared — after all, all of a sudden there were numerous talented screenwriters known to be without work. Most of his work during that time was not attributed to him until much later. He managed to break the blacklist when he was credited for writing Spartacus.

Only then, and after some additional delays, he finally filmed Johnny Got His Gun during the time of the Vietnam War, where the movie’s timeless message resonated yet again with it’s viewers.

The movie is also something of a declaration of love for Trumbo’s own childhood, as most of the memory scenes appear to be autobiographical in nature. It’s also scheduled for a remake.

  1. There’s a longer version of One to be found here, but I’m afraid the sound quality is worse. []