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Hacksaw Ridge

Title: Hacksaw Ridge
Director: Mel Gibson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey a.o.
Released: 2016
Playing time: 139 minutes

Some stories about the war are so unique, they cause people to wonder about their veracity. Film director Mel Gibson released "Hacksaw Ridge" in 2016 about Americans in combat against Japanese forces during the battle for Okinawa which lasted from April 1 to June 22, 1945. One of the soldiers, Desmond T. Doss is deeply religious and abhors violence. This principal figure, played by British-American actor Andrew Garfield, even refuses to take up arms against Japanese troops during the battle mentioned above.

Despite warnings by his father as to wars being senseless, Doss wants to join the military anyway. Following his sense of duty, he wants to serve in the American army, just like many other boys his age. Religion is an essential element in Dossí upbringing, he is a Seventh day advent. Doss frequently takes a Bible along on his walks. During an examination for military service, he falls in love with a nurse. Falling in love at first sight is a possibility, as the movie makes clear.

His principled refusal to take part in firing exercises causes Doss many problems. Later on, he decides to take part anyway. Doss decides to become a medical orderly. During the first combat actions on Okinawa the lead player ends up in, we see a hell on earth: scorched earth, corpses and fires. Mel Gibson knows like no other how to portray the violence of war as realistically as possible. The harsh reality of ripped off limbs, pain and burns. Just like the Japanese, the Americans suffer huge losses, although in lower numbers. Japanese run like maniacs with bayonets at the ready into American positions, suffering huge loses by gun fire. Those suicide waves break up on well defended lines. The hatred of the Japanese is so huge, they apparently have no trouble at all blowing themselves up with hand grenades.

The grim Okinawa landscape during the war is filled with the sound of grenades screaming overhead, fired by American troops at Japanese strongpoints. Each bomb crater can be used for cover by Japanese and Americans alike. American warships fire hundreds of rounds to wear down the Japanese positions. Japanese morale though does not diminish; on the contrary, Japanese soldiers become more fanatic by the minute. Surrender is no option, ritual suicide, Hara-kiri is the preferred way out.

In this hell, we see Doss at work, following his Bible to the letter: saving as many people as possible without having to kill people himself. Doss saves dozens of American GIís on the battlefield, some of them having lost a limb. The religious message of compassion, love and nonviolence shows that soldiers, even in times of war, can abstain, totally or in part, from violence and dedicate themselves to others. Just like Christ who offered his life for humanity, Doss dedicates himself entirely to others, ignoring his own life.

"Hacksaw Ridge" is a unique movie, showing the good in some people. The contrast between pacifism on the one hand and the violent images of war on the other hand is clearly shown in the movie. For his actions, Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest decoration American military could earn during the war. This decoration can be awarded in case of "conspicuous courage and initiative at risk of death above and beyond the call of duty in actual combat against an enemy force." Dossí story inspires, encourages and triggers emotions. A film displaying what good people are capable of in times of war.

Rating: Very good


Medal of Honor
United States of Americaís highest military honour. Awarded for awarded for personal acts of† valor† above and beyond the call of duty.



Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Ruben Krutzen
Published on:
Last edit on:
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