...And Justice For All, ©1988
 Hetfield / Ulrich

Metallica’s 1988 song was partially inspired by the movie Johnny Got His Gun, originally a novel written by Dalton Trumbo in 1938. The anti-war novel tells the story of an American soldier in World War I who has been grossly disfigured by a landmine. All his appendages have been removed and his face was blown away leaving him trapped in a lifeless body, unable to communicate with the outside world.

The novel was re-released during the Vietnam War and subsequently adapted into a movie which Trumbo directed in 1971. Metallica secured the rights to the movie and incorporated numerous scenes in their music video for the song One. In 1989 Metallica released a video, 2 of One which includes two versions of the music video and an interview with band member Lars Ulrich who states, "We just know we made something that's very, very unique and different." He also explains that the idea for this song actually originated with band member James Hetfield who was thinking about what it would be like to have a healthy mind trapped within a useless body, a "living consciousness" or "basket case", unable to communicate with others.

The 1991 song, 1916 by Motorhead deals with loss of innocence and describes the horror and  brutality of World War I in graphic detail...I heard my friend cry and he sank to his knees, coughing blood as he screamed for his mother And I fell by his side, and that’s how we died Clinging like kids to eachother...

Many students do not realize that some of the slang terms used today actually date back to World War I. "In popular usage basket case refers to someone in a hopeless mental condition, but in origin it had a physical meaning. In the grim slang of the British army during World War I, it referred to a quadruple amputee. This is one of several expressions that first became popular in World War I, or that entered American army slang from British English at that time...Others have lost most or all of their military connotations, such as ace, chow, slacker, and dud."

Source(s):   The "One" Videos , © 1989 Elektra Records.

                  The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton
                  Mifflin Company.


Music and Lyric Resources:

Encyclopedia Metallica

The Metallica Source


Referenced and Related Works:

Johnny Got His Gun,  1971 Introduction


Rainer Maria Rilke's "The Panther"


Edvard Munch's "The Scream"


Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"


Pablo Picasso's "Guernica"


George M. Cohan's "Over There"


Motorhead's "1916"


Wilfred Owen's "Disabled"




Siegfried Sassoon's "Does It Matter?"


Constructed Response Activity


Constructed Response Activity


Constructed Response Activity


Oliver Sacks's "Awakenings" ( external page )


Adopt-A-Minefield (UK)-No More Landmines  ( external page )


International Campaign To Ban Landmines  ( external page )


YouTube - “One”  ( external page )



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