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Johnny takes hold from Dalton Trumbo novel Johnny got his gun (1939), from the homonymous movie directed by the novel’s autor himself in 1971 and from the piece inspired by it One, recorded by Metallica in their album …And justice for all, and it merges the three languages of literature, music and movies in one single multimedia work, with real actors made of paper and light, made with nothing, like Testori theatre of Gli Scarozzanti.
Johnny’s story is simple and terrible: a young american, in the end of the first world war is been sent at the european front where, shot by a grenade, he loses his legs, his arms, his face, his ears and all of his senses but the touch. Considering his state, he is believed incapable of discernment, and he is artificially kept alive year after year just for scientifical reasons, in a small bed in a dark closet. Actually, even if he is unable to communicate, his mind is perfectly awake and aware of the terrible situation, and his thoughts, his fears and his hopes – vain – over the years cross that obscure boundary between life and death, making him unaccepted, the only dead among the alive, the only alive among the dead. I’ve always considered this story as fundamental to me. Certainly because since I was young my family events led me to have a daily realtionship with the deasese. And certainly because I think it could be so extreme, and so unbeareble and so terribly true. Johnny extends his death almost endlessly, living and living again thousands of times the transition from life to death, that passage that none of us could know, the one that in Trumbo’s movie nobody, not even Christ, could understand or just stand. In this frame Johnny seems to me like a Christ armless and legless, who can’t be given not even of a cross – necessary croassroad to the redemption – and thus who can’t be given of salvation.
The only relief he can find is around a sweet nurse next to his bedside, to carry him in his endless transition. While I was reading again an interview to Lucia, Testori’s sister, I noticed how necessary was, in this house, to carry oneself beloved towards the afterlife.
Testori used to sleep in that bed where his parents passed away, keeping physically alive the flame of their presence. Parents who, right here, in this room where the living/dying Johnny rests in his hospital bed, were presented for the last time to the love of their dear ones. “Now the world is gone, I’m just one”.

Posted on: 20 Giugno 2011, by : Associazione Giovanni Testori
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