Hacksaw Ridge Directed by Mel Gibson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.” – Desmond Doss

Desmond Doss’s incredible true story is one of nail biting yet heartwarming courage and valor, worth multiple re-watches. During World War II, Doss signs up to the US army as a medic, despite being a conscientious objector. Because of his Seventh Day Adventist faith, a violent father and a violent incident in his childhood, Desmond Doss refuses to pick up a gun, but is determined to do his duty and is more than willing to face as much danger as his fellow countrymen.

Unsurprisingly, this personal conviction brings him into conflict not only with his fellow cadets in basic training, but his commanding officers when he refuses to pick up a gun to complete his basic training, saying, “While everyone else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it.”

When questioned in his court martial hearing, Doss says, “With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”

Doss’ legacy is the 75 plus men he managed to save in the battle of Okinawa at Hacksaw Ridge during World War II – without ever firing a weapon. His iconic and inspiring catchphrase of “Lord, please help me get one more,” is muttered repeatedly as he drags men through the battlefield and lowers them down a cliff face with a rope.

Directed by Mel Gibson, this film is a realistic and powerful portrayal of one man’s story as he holds fast to his conviction in the face of death-defying odds. Andrew Garfield plays opposite Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington and Luke Bracey, among others and the relationships are one of the most compelling part of this story. Doss’ wife, Dorothy, says, “I fell in love with you because you weren’t like anyone else and you didn’t try to be,” describing Doss’ unique strength of character, which is one of the very reasons his fellow soldiers end up having the highest respect for him.

At first misunderstood by the army and taken for a coward, Doss contradicts this misconception by saying, “It isn’t right that other men should fight and die, that I would just be sitting at home safe. I need to serve.” Doss is initially ridiculed, excluded, bullied and beaten by men in the training camp, but once his fellow soldiers and commander realise that he isn’t afraid or wanting to escape danger, they begin to warm to him. Captain Glover reflects this faith that the men have in Doss when he says to him, “Most of these men don’t believe the same way you do. But they believe so much in how much you believe.”

The film is quite violent and has a few sexual references, so not recommended for young viewers or as a young family movie, but its overall message is one of sound morals and admirable conviction. Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is a memorable tribute to a courageous man and an inspiring lesson to all young people to stick true to what they believe, no matter the odds they’re faced with.

Reviewed by: Lil van Wyngaard – Veritatis Publishing

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