HACKSAW RIDGE (R)

Private Desmond Doss entered the bloodiest battle of the Pacific during World War II with nothing to protect himself save for his Bible and a profound faith in God. 

Hacksaw Ridge tells us that incredible true story - one of a man who probably never should have been in the military. Doss was the first Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in history to have never fired a shot, and his story is nothing short of miraculous.


Doss was a pacifist - a conscientious objector, a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, who enlisted as a medic to serve his country, but refused to bear arms. His introductory days in the army were hellish, as the contempt of his superiors and peers mounted against him. Yet, despite their disdain, this gentle and misunderstood soldier went on to earn the respect and adoration of his peers without ever firing a shot. During the worst battle of the Pacific – the Battle of Okinawa, he risked his life in heavy gunfire to save 75 men.
The film stars Andrew Garfield (Doss), Sam Worthington (Captain Glover), Vince Vaughn (Sergeant Howell) and Teresa Palmer (Dorothy Schutte). Director, Mel Gibson gave us a true, gritty and violent account of the 1945 battle fought on the hellish Maeda Escarpment, nicknamed “Hacksaw Ridge” due to the treacherously steep 400-foot cliff.
The 307th and 77th Infantry Division was deployed to the site to wage a seemingly impossible battle in the face of Japanese machine gun nests, booby traps and a network of hidden enemy-occupied caves.

This was more than a tactile thrown-to-screen war story. Gibson spent time delving into the events of Desmond’s history which produced his immovable moral code, allowing the audience to empathize with him. Garfield played the role with a boyish charm that captured the self-effacing and soft-spoken real-life Doss, swimming upstream against a tide of opposition.
As the the scenes depicting Doss’ heroic acts unfolded; admittedly, it would have been impossible to believe, had it not been a documented and historical account. How was it even possible for a small-framed man to rescue 75-plus men from a steep cliff, under heavy fire, without help and during the night?

The film earned a 10-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2016. Hacksaw Ridge earned Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nominations in 2017, restoring Gibson’s tarnished reputation among his Hollywood peers. It also established Garfield (more famously known for Spider Man) as a serious actor and award contender to watch in future years.

Yes, Hacksaw Ridge was a story of violence and war time horror. Yet there were deep and stirring messages about honor, humility and the cost of standing by personal convictions. We live in a cultural era where honor is cheap, humility non-existent and personal convictions are lost in a sea of mass-produced political correctness. Sometimes we need films like Hacksaw Ridge to remind us that heroism takes unexpected forms, strength can be in gentle and face-value judgments are often false. 


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