Jeepers creepers, what can you say! How deep can a film go? Seriously this is an emotional thought-provoking, haunting journey into the human soul. What happens to the human mind when that is all you are, just a mind?
Tagline – The most shattering experience you’ll ever live.
Definitely not a film many people are going to jump to see. Not a weekend escapism film to watch with a loved one over a big bag of popcorn. Although if you fancy something very diverse, challenging and a visceral experience into the spirit of one man’s conscience heart and mind then this is the film for you.
Set during the First World War, our hero Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms) is a young American soldier who is hit by an artillery shell whilst on the battlefield of France. With the opening shots of the movie starting with three doctors looking over him as they discuss what the hell are they going to do with him. Poor Joe has unfortunately awoken to a fate worse than death itself. Not only is he a quadruple amputee but has lost his sight, hearing, smell and even his mouth. Somehow Joe has survived? He remains in a conscious state drifting in and out of dreams and reality with memories of his past life and loves. Fantasy dream like conversations as he constantly drifts through a timeless world, drugged and sedated.
His first love and sexual experience with his girlfriend Kareen (Kathy Fields). Interactions with his relationship with his loving Father (Jason Robards) who helps him discover who he is. Recalling memories of his kind Mother (Marsha Hunt) and mixed emotional experiences with work colleges and friends. Then there’s the spiritual side when he meets a baffled Jesus Christ, played incredibly by Donald Sutherland, who tries to figure things out and offer help but things might be over his head.
All these scenes are cleverly played out in different filming styles, various contrasting effects are used. While all the hospital scenes are filmed in black and white, the dreams and conscience thoughts range from hazy soft focus, to crystal clear quality giving numerous states of clarity in his differing states of drugged or clear vision.
It’s a real human journey through pain, loss, love but also the horrific nature of the situation, anti-war messages and of course the spiritual nature of the dream like existence and reality. There’s way more to this film than I could ever portray over a few words and my limited vocabulary but I believe it is very much worth your time to hunt down this extremely intriguing and compelling film, maybe not on date night though!
A few Wolfman observations
- This is the one film that the legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo directed himself, Johnny Got His Gun is a near masterpiece and is based on Trumbo’s own novel he wrote back in 1939.
- I have read but don’t know if this is true that Luis Buñuel (The Exterminating Angel) wrote the Jesus scenes for the film as he was original on board to direct the film in the 60’s. They definitely feel like they have his surreal signature to them?
- Heavy metal band Metallica used footage from the film and based their song “One” entirely around the subject of the film as you can see on the YouTube video Metallica – One.
- This is probably the most insane literature study of the film and book you could ever wish for. A mind boggling account analysis of everything. If you have a few hours spare and you want to know everything then please take a look at Spark Notes Study Guide, it’s truly incredible.
Prepare yourself physically and mentally before you go in but my gosh it’s worth it. Let me know if you see it or have you seen it already? What did you think?
Keep searching for those wonderful films and enjoy the journeys. All the best… Mikey Wolfman