Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dalton Trumbo, Where Are You?



We need another Dalton Trumbo. Someone who could write in a way that would stir us, a way that would shock us. Someone who would stand up for what they believed in even at the cost of their freedom, even at the cost of having to change their name and flee to Mexico.

Who was Dalton Trumbo? In my opinion, he is one of the greatest American Novelists, and a true American that lived in the Twentieth Century. He wrote the movie "Papillon", and wrote and directed the movies "Exodus" and "Spartacus." More importantly, he wrote the novel Johnny Got His Gun. For an example of his writing, I provide the following from his Vietnam-era introduction for Johnny Got His Gun, where Dalton does a little arithmetic for us:

"Numbers have dehumanized us. Over breakfast coffee we read of 40,000 American dead in Vietnam. Instead of vomiting, we reach for the toast. Our morning rush through crowded streets is not to cry murder but to hit that trough before somebody else gobbles our share.

An equation: 40,000 dead young men = 3,000 tons of bone and flesh, 124,000 pounds of brain matter, 50,000 gallons of blood, 1,840,000 years of life that will never be lived, 100,000 children who will never be born."


His book, "Johnny Got His Gun," which I read for the first time in Tenth Grade, changed my life. It instilled the mostly pacifist and antiwar viewpoints that, except for a few years in my early/mid twenties, are still with me today as I enter my thirties. It is the most powerful book I can imagine ever being written. Dalton was blacklisted, spent eleven months in prison, and eventually fled to Mexico to avoid the reprocussions of having written Johnny Got His Gun. Eventually, he found favor in the U.S. and Hollywood again and did a film adaptation in 1971 for his novel, which inspired Metallica's song "One." Metallica used scenes from the movie in the video for the song, and instead of wrangling with legal rights, the band bought the movie rights outright.

I am saddened to think what you would consider of today's situation in Iraq and elsewehre in the world. I am sure you would be even more ashamed. Back in your day, Dalton, the politicians were at least able to convince the masses that words such as "freedom" and "democracy" meant something. Nowadays, no one believes in those words anymore, and yet we still send our sons (and daughters now) off to be blown into little meaty bits for absolutely no good reason. It's sick, and I bet if you could choose, you'd be glad to remain dead so as to not face the disgusting world we now live in.

Dalton, I'm sure you know what Plato said about war, and I'm sure you've found it to be true.

Rest in Peace Dalton Trumbo.

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2 comments:

Tonya said...

Wow! Thanks.

You taught me something else today...something to remember and share.
:)

ramatheson said...

Tanks, as always, for reading.