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Joe, a young American soldier, is hit by a mortar shell on the last day of World War I. He lies in a hospital bed in a fate worse than death --- a quadruple amputee who has lost his arms, legs, eyes, ears, mouth and nose. He remains conscious and able to think, thereby reliving his life through strange dreams and memories, unable to distinguish whether he is awake or dreaming. He remains frustrated by his situation, until one day when Joe discovers a unique way to communicate with his caregivers. Written by
Let me say that I would NOT recommend this to anyone lightly. I feel quite confident saying that there are very few people I know who I think should see it.
It's all about the horror of war. The setting is WWI and involves a very young man, boy really, who has no appendages because of a grenade. The rest of the moving cuts between his horrific vegetative physical state with voice-overs of his thoughts and flashbacks to his rather limited life experiences and a few fantasies or inner monologues.
This was really a soul-shattering movie in a lot of ways. After watching it I couldn't get it out of my head for hours after hours. I couldn't' get to sleep until mid way through the next day. It is just relentlessly brutal in giving detail of true internal psychological torture, seeing a wasted life sacrificed.
I didn't read the book, which I've been told is even more dramatic than the film. I honestly can't imagine that. I don't think I could read the book. Parts of it make me think of "All Quiet on the Western Front" but in far more isolated ways. There's no glory here.
Donald Sutherland's Christ is a fascinating character and compelling. Joe's flashbacks are all meaningful and relate to the "big questions" he's trying to sort out that only seem to provide answer that torture him even more. The scene with his girlfriend early in the movie when the old man says "don't make a whore out of her" is profound in its delivery.
It is fairly artistic in a very dark sense. It's too heavy for some people. They will claim it was boring but that is only for those who have no understanding of the weight of the matters because it doesn't involve them. Make no mistake, this sort of thing goes on every day as there are wars every day.
I'm all about defending and fighting for personal rights, but if this movie were shown in every public school in the world there would be far fewer people willing to fight for the causes of others and the promise of a few more dollars.
I've never seen a movie that moved me so much but in such a sad way. It was perfect in its execution, but then again some lessons are better left unlearned.
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