For Democracy, Any Man Would Give His Only Begotten Son
This video inspired me to seek out the movie Johnny Got His Gun. I did, and still do, think it's an excellent movie.I never "got" the anti-war message, maybe because when I first saw the movie, I was fairly apolitical. Or maybe I just lack nuance, not to mention layers. It was the concept of being in that situation which captivated me. Unable to see, hear, speak, or move, yet being totally aware of what's going on around you. At any rate, I really just decided to post this because we have incurable insomniacs around here that need some high-quality entertainment.
Posted by: background N015e at September 01, 2006 02:56 AM
Posted by: Vinnie at September 01, 2006 07:04 AM
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Posted by: Darth Odie at September 01, 2006 09:05 AM
While I do think it is a great book, and a great movie, I think that the anti-war crowd are the ones not quite nuanced enough. While this work does point out the absolute horrors of war, and how a person can be dead while alive as a result of war, I don't remember it ever nuancing things enough to address issues worth fighting for. As you can see in the video, the father says, "For democracy, any man would give his only begotten son." I see two things here - 1) the term "democracy" isn't nuanced at all. I believe the war referenced in the book (it has been a while) was WW1. There is much more to the causes and purposes of WW1 than "democracy." While that line is powerful and emotionally charged, it does not communicate the full extent of why we go to war. 2) That line links war/democracy with Christian religion. The "only begotten son," bit is lifted straight from Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, and Christ's death on the cross. While the book/film probably uses this for emotional effect, or, possibly (like I said, its been a while) to link war with religion (in America anyway), the effect is a very un-nuanced vision of what war is. It portrays people as unthinking sheep who go to war for a simple ideal. But there is much more to war than just that. Also, if I remember correctly, in the book the soldier is linked with Christ in a figurative way, so that he is seen as the vision of things to come for soldiers on the battlefield.
Finally, and this is getting too long, you have to reamamber that Trombu's book was written in 1939, in the midst of WW2, and the movie was produced in 1971, in the midst of Vietnam. So, there is bound to be echos of angst, especially in the film, about a war that was unpopular.
Posted by: Casey at September 01, 2006 11:00 AM
Posted by: Improbulus Maximus at September 01, 2006 11:19 AM
Posted by: background N015e at September 01, 2006 05:56 PM
I missed the under the fold comment... as Casey points out the time of the book and movie were relevant. What is interesting is the book briefly was a hit and then disappeared after Pearl Harbor. Trumbo, a Communist, was blacklisted in the McCarthy era and didn't really enjoy much support outside of the radical circles he traveled in. However, as Casey points out, the resurgence of the book (1967) followed by the movie (1971) was due to the hugely unpopular Vietnam war. Especially following 68 with the lifting of student deferments. I am not surprised to see it reprised now as we close in on 3,000 dead and over 20,000 wounded with an Army and Marine Corps stretched thin and backdoor drafts foreshadowing a return to some form of national compulsory service (which I would not necessarily oppose).
"I am not haunted by the fear that my brother will be sent to war. I believe there are beliefs and causes worth taking risks for, worth fighting and dying for. Rather, I am haunted by the fear that he will be sent to war thoughtlessly, carelessly... The ghost of Vietnam stares at me from a black granite wall that scars the Mall in Washington, and I am haunted by a fear of watching history repeat itself."
-- Cara Cannon Byington (1/15/03)
Posted by: background N015e at September 01, 2006 06:13 PM
I think they'tr addressing war propaganda. Not the actual causes of war.
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