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In the film Jacob's Ladder (1991) there are two character's that die in car bombs/explosions. This leads Jacob and his other Vietnam War buddies to start to believe there is a government conspiracy to cover up things that were done to them in the war. Depending on one's interpretation of the movie however, we later learn that...

Jacob actually died in Vietnam and the entire film was either a hallucination or time spent in purgatory.

If this is the case then I assume there is some sort of significance or symbolism behind the car bombs but what could it be?

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    Car bombs = ied or land mines. – cde Oct 6 '16 at 21:55
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My interpretation has always* been that the entire movie takes place inside his head while he's on the operating table dying and is telling the story of his own coming to terms with his imminent demise and journey to the afterlife.

Given this, I believe that the presence of explosions in the main story represent the real world around him 'leaking in' to his subconscious in the same way that your environment (particularly sounds) can sneak into your dreams. Explosions are happening around him as he lies on the operating table and are therefore incorporated into his internal narrative as explosions in that context.

*When I say always; I obviously didn't get this on the first viewing or possibly even the second or third, but having watched this movie several times over the years, this is my conclusion.

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