Pascal Derrien

3 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun is a film made in 1971 based on a novel written in 1938 . They are both Anti war manifestos produced by Dalton Trumbo.

On my last article ''Last Man Standing''  I have used a musical video as I often do. I always spend quite some time identifying the right music video to support long form posts and for those who know me you are well accustomed to the fact that I like to provide musical context to my writing errands. Its a lengthy process though and I often come back and forth with ideas before I settle with the final choice. On my last post ''One'' interpreted and written by Metallica was a strong contender but in the end I felt that ''Epitath'' by God Is An Astronaut was more appropriately relevant to the message I was trying to convey.

That said, I decided to dig a bit further on the history behind the song and the video of Metallica. Fair to say that I did not quite like the album ….And Justice For All  when it was released back in 1988, I guess I did not understand the musical directions and aspirations of the band at the time. Even today, I would actually be incapable of naming any song titles from that album except ''One''. 

Released as a third single and written by James Hetfield, the song portrays a world war 1 soldier who is severely wounded. His arms and legs are blown off, on top of being limbless he also cannot speak nor move but can use Morse code with his head against a pillow in order to communicate. The song is superbly supported by a video produced and edited by Fleming Rasmussen.     

''The song was the band's first top 40 hit single in the U.S., reaching number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a #1 hit in Finland. A video for the song was introduced in January 1989 on MTV. Shot in black and white by director Michael Salomon, the video's story is intercut with scenes taken from the 1971 anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun. Due to routinely being required to pay royalty fees to continue showing the music video, Metallica bought the rights to the film. The video was ranked at number one on MTV soon after its introduction''

The video, the song and the film have always fascinated me, the movie was not a commercial success. I am in awe of John Bonham's history, albeit fictional I think it represents very accurately the horror of war. Personally I have always developed some anxiety about entrapment, lack of mobility and other body restrictions, so for a long time I have not had the courage to watch the film, I could barely last the length of the 7.44mns video let alone undertake a challenging long format.

At best I could read the script and reviews depicting how '' a young American soldier serving in World War I, awakens in a hospital bed after being caught in the blast of an exploding artillery shell''.  At worst I would turn a blind eye when '' He gradually realizes that he has lost his arms, legs, and all of his face (including his eyes, ears, teeth, and tongue), but that his mind functions perfectly, leaving him a prisoner in his own body''. I am shocked when ''Joe attempts suicide by suffocation, but finds that he had been given a tracheotomy that he can neither remove nor control''.

I understand when '' At first Joe wishes to die, but later decides that he desires to be placed in a glass box and toured around the country in order to show others the true horrors of war. Joe successfully communicates these desires with military officials after months and months of banging his head on his pillow in Morse code.''

But this will not happen for him ''the military will not grant his wishes, as it is "against regulations".'' It leaves him with the implication that he will live the rest of his natural life in his condition''.

As Joe drifts between reality and fantasy, he remembers his old life with his family and girlfriend, and reflects upon the myths and realities of war.


I am going to provide you with the Metallica video obviously but I will also provide you a link to the film which is available to watch on You Tube if the trailer has trigged your curiosity. Its not an easy watch, it's thought provoking, heart breaking and enthralling but its mesmerizing at the same time. 

I watched it again before composing this post. Maybe its a coincidence or is it because I am reading ''Conscious Awareness''  from Ian Weinberg in parallel with another book called  ''You'll never walk'' from Andy Grant. Andy is the world's fastest single leg amputee after having been blown up in an ambush in Afghanistan.

The two books and this movie got me drifting in thinking how mightily powerful sometimes is our mind but maybe how little we really know about how it does operate and function?

What do you think ?  


Wikipedia see Italic inserts


Full Length Movie @

Photo Credit

Got a gun do you?

Produced for beBee 

Written material except Italic Inserts 2018 Copyright - Pascal Derrien -

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Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #32

I agree there is something very elegant about it :-)

Lyon Brave

3 years ago #31

i like this sketch

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #30

thanks Paul Walters much appreciated never been told I was Kool 😉

Paul Walters

3 years ago #29

Pascal Derrien . Cool piece...thank you

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #28

conscious awareness is the title 👍

Ken Boddie

3 years ago #27

#28 What's the name of your book again, Ian Weinberg?

Ian Weinberg

3 years ago #26

Humbled. Thanks.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #25

many thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience Ian Weinberg when life is retained by the skin of a teeth loss is a matter of precipice almost a miscarriage of justice. Pretty unfair isn't it. Love the book you are one of the great minds on top of being a great human being that's pretty rare 🤔 Me thinks

Ian Weinberg

3 years ago #24

So much stuff packed into this short post Pascal Derrien it's difficult to do justice to it in a single comment. So I'll answer off the top of my head, as it were. Despite all our technological advances, mankind has not evolved meaningfully at the moral, ethical and emotional level. In fact I would say in many respects we've regressed - we've reached the 'throw away life' plateau. As regards the injuries you describe, the neuro world still eclipses that. We have the 'locked in' syndrome where following a brainstem stroke the individual can only see and blink. And so its 1 blink for yes and 2 for no - a horrendous situation which is usually permanent. And then of course the quadraplegics - no movement in any of the limbs. I looked after a quadraplegic who had a flicker remaining in his right wrist (C6 pronation). I battled for ten years to maintain this function with repeated surgery. It was a vital function in him because it allowed an instrument to be attached to the wrist for him to use a keyboard. In this way he managed to run his company. Due to certain spinal cord dynamics, I failed to regain this function in him last year (in spite of very dangerous surgery). He literally threw in the towel 2 weeks later and died. My experience has been that many of the severely afflicted even after finding some meaning and purpose, are very unhappy people - the loss forever remains a great trauma. I daresay you've just elicited an outpouring from my side. Hope you're enjoying the light bedtime reading.

my pleasure!

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #22

yes I think it's ok to be forthcoming with strengths and areas where strengths is challenged by doubts it does not necessarily means weaknesses but stuff you are not always able to deal with frontally 😉 many for reading and commenting 😊

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #21

obviously 😉

1971 is the best year, believe me

i adore the mind and what i know about it and still do not know about it. Your article, Pascal Derrien is wonderful and you share openly your thoughts and emotions with us, that is a blessing for all of us, because somehow then we realize that we are all the same to the core, we all have things we fear and things we love!

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #18

thanks Ken Boddie I think destruction will remain analogue, the tools are evolving or changing , the aim has remained the same that said scale might be different but hey I am not in hurry to find out :-)

Ken Boddie

3 years ago #17

Thought provoking this one, Pascal. What is the future of warfare? Will its reality become more or less real to non combatants? Will the future technology of warfare and weaponry have positive spin-off on medicine and bio-engineering? As we develop new arsenals, such as facial recognition drones, drone swarms, AI robot warriors, electromagnetic pulse weapons, fake news psychological warfare channelled through SM, hacking of and mass disruption to social computerised services, space bound laser weapons, hypersonic technology, and the obliteration potential of bio-weaponry, will we maintain an overall balance of power between major regions and nations, or are we slowly heading down a slippery slope only to come to a crashing halt when we've either destroyed mankind, our planet, or both? Happy days, Pascal!

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #16

It is a matter of personal preference, Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic, but I agree that comments should be relevant to the post or the ensuing discussion. If someone wants simply to support the author with a clap on the back or a boost to the post's circulation, the best way to do that is to click "relevant" (or on LinkedIn click "like"). IMO.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #15

Maybe of the topic, but a conversation on one's post should be meaningful, or at least we can try to be. If you haven't something to say about the topic or the author, don't comment at all.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #14

indeed not an uplifting fairytale or the 10 best ways to buy a toothbrush with a bitcoin account that said readers like you always make worth while the need to explore the darkest sides of the human corner 🤔 Many thanks for taking the time to read Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic 😀

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #13

Pascal, your post isn't "lovely." I need to say that after reading the previous comment. :-( Your post reminded me of similar stories about people with war-torn bodies, although unmatched to Joe's body, gained during the war in former Yugoslavia. It shows how mightily powerful is our mind, like you said, in finding the way to communicate with the outside world. There are no noble causes that can justify war and make such pain and injuries worth it.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #12

cheers Debasish Majumder always good to see you around 👍

Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #11

lovely buzz Pascal Derrien! enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #10

thanks Bill King actually you are right the ''bundle'' makes it a powerful channel depending on people preference, never been to Philly though :-) Now I think there are countless similar TRUE stories that would sustain the argument of the glass box :-(

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #9

yes Praveen Raj Gullepalli I would agree about the need to dust the dust on our own doorstep before lecturing others but we seem to be creatures of habit and not always the good ones :-(

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #8

thanks Phil Friedman complex stuff even though we have been at it for centuries we should really have cracked the code by now......

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #7

its a good one Julio Angel \ud83d\udc1dLopez Lopez I am going to sound like an old one but they don't make them no more :-)

I saw the movie. Harrowing and relexive. To see her again.

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #5

Pascal Derrien presents us with an opprtunity to contemplate several difficult questions — all the while interweaving some artistic themes of note.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #4

Thanks Ali the two videos are informative , the film is excellent and I am not convinced I did it justice with this post. Vulgarisation of violence especially in American movies (but not only) would not stand a chance against that one ….if people were willing to watch it...

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #3

Indeed Harvey Lloyd the binary approach to resolve differences have been consistently barbaric and utterly inefficient from a civilisation standpoint. I don't know how to stop this vicious circle but not only we have a short attention span nowadays but also a very short collective memory..... :-(

Pascal Derrien- if only we would do fulfill the wish that every handicapped person would be allowed to be placed in a glass box and toured around the country in order to show others the true horrors of war. Very impacting and heart-breaking post; still I plan to watch the video.

Harvey Lloyd

3 years ago #1

Challenging thoughts. War is a reminder that we are human and can't control ourselves. The outcome of war is never good. War does tend to stop whatever was thought to be evil at the moment we decided to engage in that level of destruction. Yet it also tends to merely replace the evil with the seed for the next. The interesting thing in history is that citizens wanted what the government promised. But we cant have it, if we don't destroy these other citizens. Somehow this was found OK either through coercion or nationalism. When you say this to any individual with an IQ above 10 they would say that's ridiculous. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. But the larger question to be answered, at what level does the outcome citizen destruction outweigh the cost of war to fix it? Today this question is not quite so clear cut as we also have to include economic reasons that leave folks starving to death. I believe that war can be snuffed out if we all as a planet had a reasonable definition of what it means to live. Anyone who violates this is dealt with immediately. Not allowing the definition to be obfuscated by means of power grabs or relativism.

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