Before I was making video essays based on footage from films in my project (starting with this one and progressing in complexity over several entries to this most recent one), I was posting unadorned clips from the films online. One phenomenon I haven’t commented on, until now, is that this site seems to get an equal amount of feedback comments on the YouTube pages for the various clips I’ve posted for this project. You don’t see them on this blog because the clips are embedded, but if you visit their respective YouTube pages you can find what are often abundant pithy messages from random viewers. You also can see the number of views for each clip, from the popular essay I produced on Inferno (1,420 views) to the poor, neglected analysis on The Saragossa Manuscript (93 views).
But far and away the TSPDT-related clips that I have posted that have received both the most views and the most comments are three excerpts I posted from the Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun. One clip has 11,000 views! Most of the comments are clearly from middle school kids (some with dubious spelling ability) but they clearly express the impact that watch the clips has on them. ” so fucked up… omg…. im crying rite now… no joke.” “POST THE WHOLE VIDEO NOW. PLEASE.”
Quite a few of them were already aware of these clips from having seen the video of Metallica’s “One”, which liberally includes footage from Trumbo’s film — as I had mentioned in my entry on the film, Metallica had purchased the rights to the movie so that they could use it for their video. It is unfortunate then that they have not seen it fit to give the film a proper DVD release (I had seen the film on VHS, which is where I extracted the clips to post on YouTube), especially given its relevance to our current military involvement in Iraq and elsewhere, with young men and women losing life and limb daily. The contemporary relevance of the film is not lost on a number of these anonymous viewers, a number of whom allude to having read the book in their high school classes (one mentioned that the teacher showed the Metallica video in class as a substitute for not having the Trumbo film available!)
Recently I was invited by someone to sign an online petition calling for a proper video release of Johnny Got His Gun. Sadly as of now the petition has fewer than 50 signatures. I’m not even sure what would be done with the petition if it received an overwhelmingly positive response. I traced the petition to a Mikey Diablo who can be found on his MySpace page, A Verbal Bloodletting, dedicated to all things related to horror. When I asked him about the petition, he re-confirmed that Metallica has the US rights, and bemoaned their lack of initiative for not releasing the film given its contemporaneity. He did mention the existence of both a Region 2 UK and Region 0 Canadian DVD, though by doing an Amazon search I have only found the former, and it is out of print.
I’m curious if anyone out there has also seen this film. Reading the firsthand accounts of its impact on young viewers on YouTube, I’m pretty much convinced that this film has more of a potential audience than ever, and needs to be brought back into the limelight. But it seems that the film is currently languishing in a fate similar to its protagonist, in a land of silence and darkness.
If anyone has any ideas on how to convince Metallica to release the film, I’m all ears.