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.
Inside me, I'm screaming and yelling and howling like a trapped animal... and nobody pays any attention. If I had arms, I could kill myself. If I had legs, I could run away. If I had a voice, I could talk and be some kind of company for myself. I could yell for help, but nobody would help me.
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I saw this movie on public Greek TV (original version with subtitles), and was glued to the screen until the very end. I would say that it develops in three modes. One is the horrible black and white present, one is the colorful past (memory) and one is the surreal world of Johnny's dreams where he is conscious of his injury! I haven't understood how the scenes with his father in the past add up to the movie very well. The acting isn't superb and some lines could have been different. The black and white cinematography is very convincing and the scenes with the last nurse are tremendous! Aside from the downsides of war which are evident, the movie also deals with how the system is willing to suppress its own fabricated heroes when they fall short of its ideology. One of the best Hollywood movies ever made, chiefly due to its powerful script. 8/10
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