It began as a dream: A subway late at night; I am traveling through the bowels of New York City. There are very few people on the train. A terrible loneliness grips me. The train pulls into the station and I get off. The platform is deserted. I walk to the nearest exit, and discover the gate is locked. A feeling of terrible despair begins to pulse through me as I hike to the other end of the platform. To my horror, that exit is chained, too. I am totally trapped and overwhelmed by a sense of doom. I know with perfect certainty that I will never see daylight again. My only hope is to jump onto the tracks and enter the tunnel, the darkness. The only direction from there is down. I know the next stop on my journey is hell.
At that instant I woke up, in a sweat, panting. The singular thought in my head at that moment was “What a great idea for the opening of a movie.” And so Jacob’s Ladder was born.
Bruce Joel Rubin, in Jacob’s Chronicle, included in the Jacob’s Ladder screenplay published by Applause Theatre Book Publishers, 1990