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Jacob's Ladder (1990)

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Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.

Director:

Adrian Lyne
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Popularity
2,459 ( 388)
3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Robbins ... Jacob
Elizabeth Peña ... Jezzie
Danny Aiello ... Louis
Matt Craven ... Michael
Pruitt Taylor Vince ... Paul
Jason Alexander ... Geary
Patricia Kalember ... Sarah
Eriq La Salle ... Frank
Ving Rhames ... George
Brian Tarantina ... Doug
Anthony Alessandro Anthony Alessandro ... Rod
Brent Hinkley ... Jerry
S. Epatha Merkerson ... Elsa
Suzanne Shepherd ... Hospital Receptionist
Doug Barron Doug Barron ... Group Leader
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Storyline

Jacob Singer is trying to make sense of his fractured life and memories. Plagued by hallucinations, flashbacks, and conspiracies, he struggles down a path to enlightenment from these manic strains. With nothing but support from friends and loved ones will he be able to push through the haze of his PTSD.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most frightening thing about Jacob Singer's nightmare is that he isn't dreaming.

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 November 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dante's Inferno See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,500,760, 4 November 1990

Gross USA:

$26,118,851

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$26,118,851
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Carolco Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The James Brown funk song "My Thang", heard during the raucous party scene, appeared on a double album of Brown's from 1974 called "Hell". See more »

Goofs

Numerous times, most noticeable in a mirror. See more »

Quotes

Louis: Eckhart saw Hell too. He said: The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. So the way he sees it, if you're frightened of dying and... and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth. It's just a matter of how you look at it, ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits roll over a grainy black and white photo of Gabe and Jacob crossing the street together. See more »


Soundtracks

PLEASE MR. POSTMAN
Written by Robert Bateman (as R. Bateman) / Georgia Dobbins (as G. Dobbins) / William Garrett (as W. Garrett) / Brian Holland (as B. Holland) / Freddie Gorman (as F. Gorman)
Published by Jobete Music Co., Inc. (ASCAP) / Stone Agate Music (BMI)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Way before Shyamalan came on board, Adrian Lyne had blown the collective consciousness!
9 October 2003 | by uds3See all my reviews

One "reviewer" here wrote (I presume) in all seriousness "Like a bad dream - impossible to understand!" That being the case, I can only describe his subsequent attempt to compile a review as "gutsy" in the extreme.

I believe JACOB'S LADDER is one of the 10 best films ever made. It is NOT impossible to understand...you merely have to listen and interpret! For those without the ability to effect the latter...just listen! Danny Aiello's character, Louis the chiropracter lays it out for you - word for word. I think it is the best part Aiello ever had, small one though it is in terms of screen time. Integral to a collective grasp of this great and disturbing film however is the need to tie-in the relationship between Jacob the individual, the biblical "Jacob's Ladder" itself and the relevance of "The Ladder" as explained (and seemingly forgotten by most everybody) by the runty chemical weapons boffin at the near conclusion of the film.

To those who view the ending as "rushed," "unsatisfying," "obscure" even "dumb" as I recall, I would merely suggest you watch it again and take into account the likelihood is, that it is in fact YOU that has missed what has been so cleverly set out for you. SIGNS was equally misunderstood by the majority of people that even liked it - there never WERE any aliens!

JACOB'S LADDER is Robbins' greatest film - Lyne's too. The last few minutes are amongst the most emotional and uplifting scenes I have ever seen since the "star child" in 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY. Culkin was the perfect choice!

I saw this movie in a near deserted theater in Times Square the week it came out. At the conclusion of this particular late show I noticed an old man sitting some two rows away to my left, absorbed in his thoughts. Having to walk past him to gain the exit I noticed tears in his eyes. He looked up as I approached. After studying me for a moment all he said to me was "You understood didn't you?" I said, "Yes I understood!" He replied softly..."You're very lucky!"


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