Hacksaw Ridge Debuts for Veterans Day
by Jack Delea on Friday, November 18th, 2016
On November 4, 2016, Lionsgate released their new film, Hacksaw Ridge, to the public. The film follows the true story of Medal of Honor recipient Desmond T. Doss, portrayed by Andrew Garfield, through his remarkable journey as a World War II soldier who refused to kill.
According to The New York Times, Doss was drafted into the US Army in 1942 but refused to bear arms on religious grounds. Doss was a devout Christian and deeply believed in the Sixth Commandment which states: “thou shalt not kill.” Doss demonstrated adherence to his faith by becoming a medic, a decision that did not go over well with the other soldiers. He was harassed repeatedly by members of his troop, with one officer even trying to discharge him for mental illness.
Doss went into battle as a combat medic in both Guam and the Philippines in 1944 and later fought in the iconic battle of Okinawa in 1945. His troop fought along the 400 foot high Hacksaw Ridge, the origin of the film’s name. Doss made it his mission to save as many lives as possible. As Japanese troops attacked, Doss saved around 50 wounded soldiers who were left on the ridge. He carried each soldier to a makeshift stretcher that he constructed using spare rope and a tree stump for an anchor. He then lowered each soldier 35 feet down to a sheltered area — all while he was under enemy fire.
Private Doss spent two weeks rescuing soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa until grenade shrapnel left him critically wounded. For five hours, he tended to himself until other members of his troop carried him off in a litter. However, while being carried off, he jumped off of the litter to save a wounded soldier. In doing so, he was hit by Japanese fire, giving him a compound fracture in his arm. He tied a gun stock to his arm in place of a splint and crawled 300 yards to safety. The United States awarded Private Doss with the Medal of Honor for his bravery and selfless actions.
Hacksaw Ridge, the cinematic interpretation of Private Doss’ story, received very good reviews from both professional critics and the general public. Richard Brody of The New Yorker says the film is “nearly pathological in its love of violence — but… nonetheless counterbalances its amoral pleasures with an understanding of the psychological devastation that war wreaks.” The film’s director, Mel Gibson, is notorious for his gory films, including Braveheart and Apocalypto, so the intensity of his new film is not much of a surprise.
Time magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek described the film as “a movie that reaches out toward the idea of goodness in the world.” She says, “[Hacksaw Ridge] is blunt and effective, a picture cannily crafted for maximum effect.” Hacksaw Ridge has earned positive reviews from critics and had a strong reception among casual viewers. The film received 95% positive reviews from users on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as an 8.7/10 on IMDB.
Mel Gibson’s new film, Hacksaw Ridge, beautifully demonstrates the power of the human spirit and how, in times of havoc, action can make a monumental difference. This film’s message could not be more relevant considering the turmoil that has confronted this country in the last week and a half. Doss declares, “With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing for me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”
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