Genre: Drama film / History / Real Life story
Length:2 hours 19 minutes
Rating: 5 stars
Imagine joining the army, you have signed up to fight and serve for your country, to kill the opposition in the attempt to win the war. Now imagine joining the army and refusing to even pick up a gun.
Hacksaw Ridge is the unforgettable story of Desmond Doss a devout Christian, a Seventh Day Adventist, but most importantly a conscientious objector and one of the greatest heroes of World War Two, who never fired a single bullet.
In this $40 million produced action drama film, Mel Gibson has scored an all star cast, with Andrew Garfield giving an exceptional lead performance alongside, Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington to name a few. It is utterly refreshing to see Garfield out of his Spiderman suit and really capture the raw integrity of his character. The film has received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations alongside 7 Oscar nominations winning Best Film editing.
The film features some of the most brutal depictions of war ever put to a screen and it is impossible to overstate the level to which we see men being turned into meat. Hacksaw Ridge is riveting cinema. Although it must be said – it is bloody – bloodier than we’ve seen on screen for a very long time, but it is honest in the way that it truly shows the brutality of this war. The camera captures hundreds of casualties, many of them incredibly gruesome and stomach wrenching. Men have parts of their faces missing, limbs blown off in real time, strips of flesh are left dangling and corpses litter the ground being eaten by rats. But none of these images can distract you from the storyline – you are hooked from the very beginning and the overwhelming emotion of hope that you have as a viewer is indescribable.
It is an absolute must-see film and leads the way for an incredible year of real-life story films that the industry is creating.
The story begins with Desmond as a child, running through the woods with his brother Hal. One afternoon the boys are fighting, when Desmond reaches for a brick and whacks Hal over the head – knocking him unconscious. This traumatising experience, along with a stern talk from his religious mother, firmly reinforces Desmond’s belief in the commandment; ‘Thou shall not kill’.
The film follows Desmond’s military training and the obstacles he comes up against as he tries to resist the commands of his authority.
Immediately becoming an outcast among his fellow soldiers, subjected to gruelling labour and then the threat of a lifetime in jail. After pleading not guilty at sentencing, his father spares him, stating that his refusal to carry a firearm is protected by an Act of Congress. The charges are dropped and Desmond is assigned to 77th Infantry Division, and enters war, driven only by faith and armed only with courage, with no protection other than Gods.
His division are sent to participate in the Battle of Okinawa, with the task of climbing the cliff face nicknamed ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ to take on the Japanese forces stationed at the top. In the initial fight, losses are heavy on both sides and Desmond is successful in saving several soldiers, including ones whose injuries appear too severe for them to survive.
The rest of his squadron retreats back down the ridge to safety, but Desmond hears the cries of several dying soldiers and decides to run back into the carnage. He spends the remainder of the that night carrying wounded soldiers to the cliffs edge and rappelling them down on a rope one by one, each time praying to God to ‘save one more.’
Desmond single handily saved 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge that night, becoming the first ever conscientious objector to receive the United States’ highest military award, the Medal of Honour, in recognition for his bravery and service that went above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa.