the premise of the book/film is what really makes this a great piece of work. it’s about a guy who is bombed on the last day of wwi and loses his limbs, face, and hearing, but is still able to think and, with some effort, move his head. the doctors think he is brain dead so they keep him alive in a storage closet to do some medical experiments on him. this same idea was used in a next generation twilight zone or ray bradbury’s theater episode once. the film goes back and forth between his current reality and his memories as well as fantasy. trumbo wrote the book and directs, but i don’t know that he’s the right one to direct. it’s a bit slow at times and it could have used the touch of someone who really knows film. that said, the ending is what really makes this film and all the time spent earlier in the film with johnny just laying there describing what he is thinking and feeling makes the ending that much better. throughout the film johnny keeps a fairly even tone about the whole situation. in the end, when he realizes that he’s going to be laying in a bed with no human contact for the rest of his pathetic life, it’s heartbreaking. his innocence and positive spin on his situation throughout the majority of the film only deepens the depression that is felt when his final realization is made.
note: i, like many others, was first exposed to this through metallica’s “one” music video. thankfully the film was finally released on dvd in april this year so you can run out and get it now.