Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Academy Award winner Mel Gibson (Braveheart, The Patriot) portrayed the incredible true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield). The movie focuses on Doss’ confliction of war and religion. Set in WWII, Doss watched as his brother and his friends enlisted and left to fight; he was the last young man left who had not enlisted to serve.
Though Doss was raised in an extremely Christian household and as a child, he almost killed his brother with a brick in a rough, brotherly fight; this experience along with his morals built Doss’ beliefs against murder. Doss had a strong desire to serve all while sustaining his refusal to bear arms on the battlefield. Therefore, he decided to become a medic to save lives rather than to take them.
At basic training, Doss faced the judgment of his commanding officers and his fellow men. After verbal and physical abuse from the men around him, and a court trial that almost sent him to prison with the charges of Doss disobeying his commanding officer’s orders to participate in rifle training, they finally alleviated all charges and allowed Doss to become a medic and to fight at Hacksaw Ridge without requiring him to carry a weapon.
Once his unit arrived at Hacksaw, hell erupted as the men climbed up the cliff to face the scene of gore and tragedy as they relentlessly fought Japanese troops. After hours of fighting this battle, Doss’ unit was losing against Japan, and they soon aborted their mission. Doss refused to leave as he faced the horrors of war alone as he walked back into the clouds of the bombs. For endless hours, Doss analyzed the each body and prayed to God in hopes to find a life to save. In the end, Desmond Doss survived as he saved 75 men and received the Medal of Honor for his immense bravery.
The movie starred Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, The Amazing Spider-Man), which at first I was surprised to see in such a serious and major role, as his only significant role has been Spider-Man. However, I was incredibly stunned by his portrayal of the American hero, Desmond Doss.
His acting blew me away with his emotional confliction of war and religion, and his perseverance through the psychological and physical forces of war. There were two scenes that are extremely profound in his acting.
The first was when Doss was in a jail cell for the charges of disobeying his commanding officer. Garfield was exceptionally raw and frightening when his character had a mental breakdown as he screams and incessantly punches the door with immeasurable anger in his eyes.
The second scene in which I favored his acting the most was when he was saving men from the Hacksaw Ridge battlefield while praying to God to “help me get one more” life to save. This is when his religion and war intertwined for Doss; he experienced the physical pain of carrying 75 men, and from the fear of the Japanese to kill him at any given moment, he attained his faith to accomplish the impossible.
I truly hope that Andrew Garfield is nominated for his flawless work in Hacksaw Ridge; I see no reason that Garfield could not receive the nomination. I am also looking forward to his new movie Silence that will be released in January 2017. His career is launching fast, and I see him joining the greats of the American actors very soon.
The art direction, cinematography, and setting of Hacksaw Ridge was impeccable; I was most especially impressed with the battle scenes. As the scenes occurred, my mouth was agape the whole time as the battles unraveled in smoke, fire, and explosions. The cinematographer, Simon Duggan, unbelievably recreated such a realistic battle scene that personally made me feel I was physically there at Hacksaw Ridge. I am confident the art-direction and cinematography of Hacksaw Ridge will be recognized at the Oscars this year.
The screenplay of Hacksaw Ridge was nothing less of amazing; the screenwriters did an excellent job by making the story of Desmond Doss as truthful and accurate as possible. The screenplay is heart wrenching and stunning as Doss’ life unraveled to the viewer. Once again, the direction of Mel Gibson was no surprise; Gibson has a strong talent in creating war films that raw and real. There is no fluff in Hacksaw Ridge, and that is what I especially liked about it. It was poignant and emotional in telling the tale of this American hero, and Gibson did an outstanding job in creating this film. I foresee Gibson receiving an Oscar nomination without a doubt as his true talents as a director were exceptionally shown in Hacksaw Ridge; I could not see any other director capable of directing this movie like Gibson did.
Overall, I give Hacksaw Ridge a rare (at least for me) 5 out of 5 stars. This movie left a mark on me unlike most. I place this war film next to the great Saving Private Ryan, as it showed the same human endurance of war, told a one of a kind story, and had the weight of incredible battle scenes. I have high hopes for this film for the Oscar season, especially in receiving a Best Picture nomination. However, if Hacksaw Ridge does not receive any awards or receives minimal nominations, it made a large impact in the war film industry, and a large impact in the film season of 2016.
Written by Alyssa Weinstein