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The song's theme and lyrics are based on Dalton Trumbo's 1939 novel Johnny Got His Gun, telling the tale of a soldier who is hit by an artillery shell and loses his limbs, eyes, ears and mouth. His mind functions perfectly, however, leaving him trapped inside his own body (which could also be described as a special form of locked-in syndrome). Trumbo directed the movie adaptation in 1971, from which the footage for the "One" music video is taken.