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Jacob's Ladder [DVD]
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Divorced Vietnam veteran turned postman Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) is disturbed when he begins to be plagued by bizarre and violent hallucinations, both of the family he has abandoned and a bloody battle he could not previously remember. So strong are the images that the line between past and present, real and unreal, begins to dissolve. Desperate for help, Jacob turns to his ex-wife, Sarah, and chiropractor Louis (Danny Aiello).
In Jacob's Ladder, Vietnam veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) thinks he is going insane. Or worse. When his nightmares begin spilling into his waking hours, Jacob believes he is experiencing the after-effects of a powerful drug tested on him during Vietnam. Or perhaps his post-traumatic stress disorder is worse than most. Whatever is happening to him, it's not good. Director Adrian Lyne sparks our interest and maintains high production values, but this confusing film chokes on its "surprise" ending. It owes much to Ambrose Bierce's haunting and more straightforward short story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek. Written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who also explored the "other side" in Ghost and My Life, Jacob's Ladder ultimately feels like an exercise in self-indulgence. A spirited performance by Elizabeth Peña outshines Robbins, who is surprisingly lethargic. --Rochelle O'Gorman
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Top Customer Reviews
Tim Robbins delivers a unique performance as Jacob (perhaps only comparable in his career to The Shawshank Redemption where he, however, needs to share the credit with Morgan Freeman), a Vietnam warrior who gets seriously wounded in combat and finds himself in a desperate struggle for life. And between life and death, heaven or hell, where does Jacob belong? That's something Jacob will have to find out for himself and that'll be the fight of his life.
Robbins is absolutely irreprehensible from start to end, and the rest of the cast includes other somewhat well known names like Eriq La Salle, Elisabeth Peña, Macaulay Culkin on one of his first roles (yeah, the Home Alone kid!) and even Jason Alexander from Seinfeld. The film is filled with symbolic meaning and that's one of its strenghts. Director Adrian Lyne did a really great job on that front as he was able to capture all that meaning, treating it well and presenting it to the reader in the most fascinating and yet subtle way. Not only that, this includes perhaps the very finest psychological horror I've ever seen (or should I say felt?) in my life.
This is perhaps one of the most underrated movies out there, but you know what? I think that adds something almost mystical to it. Get it on your DVD/Video player and see for yourself.
5 stars. No less.
The plot is multi-layered, segueing from alternate "realities" to the odd bouts of hallucinations. First layer is Jacob's lurid experience in Vietnam, a sinister battle in Mekong Delta, where his guts were pierced by a deadly bayonet thrust by an unseen assailant; Then, his post-Nam NYC "life" comes with flashbacks showing the days with his girlfriend Jezzie, who is compelled to cope with his intermittent psychotic episodes and gradual mental degeneration; Suddenly, we cut to his pre-Nam days during which he lives happily with his ex-wife and kids. At one point he is visited by his dead son, and haunted by his death scene.
These phantasmagoric trips occur between the pre-Nam/post-Nam worlds and the viewer gets overwhelmingly baffled whether which of these worlds were real and which were fantasy. And in all these worlds, he incessantly struggles to battle his inner demons appearing everywhere in "outside" world. Is he slipping into insanity; are all these mess a result of being doped by a mind-altering drug, making the soldiers hyper-violent war machines during the battle; is there a conspiracy by government to silence him; is he alive or is he dead? What a mishmash... You would be bombarded with such questions, and some red herrings throughout the film.Read more ›
My best friend urged me to view 'Jacob's Ladder' after we had discussed philosophies of life and death. I remembered reading about Jacob's Ladder from the Bible 'Jacob's vision in which he saw a stairway from earth to Heaven with angels descending and ascending.' Little did I realize that this film was the reality.
This film is not like anything I have ever seen. It is a viscerally frightening film that kept me on the edge of my seat. It opens with a scene in the Mekong Delta. Jacob Singer, as played by Tim Robbins and his squadron of soldiers are seen joking about human existence. Minutes later, all hell breaks loose, explosions, convulsions, and jerky hand-held camera movements. And, then we move to the subway where Jacob is reading Camus and frightening, exotic and dangerous events occur. Jacob works for the post office and this must be the anchor of his daily existence. Taking stock of Jacob's existence it seems. I sat right on the edge of my seat while viewing this film and feel this is an analogy for the film- right on the edge, between madness and sanity. Elizabeth Pena plays Jacob's girlfriend and is she the piece that holds sanity together? The film is really about coming to peace with one's life or death. What really happens during those last few moments of life? Once in your head, Jacob's Ladder is there for good.
Louis, Jacob's friend and doctor says it best: " Eckhart saw Hell too.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although it is showing it's age now, still a good film. Psychological thriller with good twist.Published 23 days ago by great game but it is a bit frustrating
Spooky 'Nam veteran film. Great twist at the end. Tim Robins is excellent, better only in "shawshank"Published 2 months ago by colsview
A very thought provoking film. Too bad there isn't any subtitle available.Published 2 months ago by Rave S.