Hacksaw Ridge
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Hacksaw Ridge

 

No endeavor pursued by our species is more destructive yet so frequently engaged than war. It blatantly destroys every aspect of the fabric of society from the pervasive institutions of governments and armed services to the imamate associations that are the core of humanity, the family. Arguably, I am possible to make a case for war’s ability to bring to light some of the noblest qualities human beings are capable of demonstrating. Considered paramount among these actions are "personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty." Soldiers exhibiting such acts of extreme bravery eschewing any concern for self-preservation, giving their all to the greater good and welfare of others are eligible for the United States of America's highest military honor, Medal of Honor. Since the Civil War 3,496 soldiers have had this honor bestowed on them but only one demonstrated such extraordinary gallantry without carrying a weapon of any sort on to the field of battle, PFC Desmond Doss, incredibly portrayed in this biographical film by Andrew Garfield. He was previously best known for the titular role the mediocre reboot of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,' that part has been left in the dust by his performance in the film considered here, ‘Hacksaw Ridge.' Is craftsmanship has Private Doss has earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role? Mr. Garfield was not the only representation this film had at the annual Nominees Luncheon, producers Bill Mechanic and David Permut earned their place at the table for Best Motion Picture of the Year, and Mel Gibson once again attended this elite gathering with his nomination for Best Achievement in Directing. In a couple of months, the envelopes will be open, and the world will learn if any of this nomination yielded the coveted gold statues. Regardless of the results, this film possesses the sheer impressive qualities that even if you are not particularly a fan of war movies, this film will captivate your attention and instill an unforgettable emotional response.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) grew up near Lynchburg, Virginia in a family of the valve beliefs in their religion, Seventh-day Adventist. As a child, he was involved in an accident that almost took his brother’s life which made his consideration of the commandment "you will not kill," something intensely personal to him. His first experience with helping the injured occurred when Desmond happened upon a severely injured man who was in a car accident. He brought the man to the hospital where he experienced the second pivotal moment of the day, reading one of the nurses, Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer). Soon, the relationship between the two developed she was the first one he expressed his desire for life’s vocation, to receive medical training and help people. As the United States was drawn into World War II Desmond felt obliged to enlist in the Army. His father, a World War I veteran, adamantly objected to this decision because he was a conscientious objector. Desmond enlists as a combat medic, but before leaving for basic training, he proposes to Dorothy who happily accepts. As a symbol of their engagement and recognition of his deep-seated faith, Dorothy gives him a Bible to carry with them during his tour of duty. Overseeing their basic training was Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn), who took a liking to the young man because of his polite demeanor and dedication. Unfortunately, the rest of the men in his unit did not share the sentiments. Desmond was considered an outcast because he would not carry a weapon during training and he would refuse to train on Saturday because of his religious objections. A concerted effort was made to have Doss resigned from the service. The commanding officer, Captain Glover (Sam Worthington) attempted to have him discharged on psychiatric grounds and Sgt. Howell attempted to force the resignation by inflicting strenuous physical activity upon the faith driven young man. The men in his unit were so against his presence there that they severely beat him, yet still, he was steadfast in his decision to remain.

Desmond and hope that after his training he would receive leave so he could return home and married Dorothy. Instead, he was arrested for insubordination resulting from his refusal to carry a weapon. When Dorothy visits him during his incarceration, she urges him just to plead guilty, but Desmond refuses to compromise his beliefs. His father intervened by bringing a letter from his commanding officer stating that an Act of Congress protects his pacifism. Charges were dropped in Desmond and Dorothy was married. Doss was sent to the Pacific theater as part of the 77th Infantry Division in the position of a combat medic. Despite the fact that he was in an active war zone Doss continued his refusal to carry a weapon. The action that would lead to his commendation occurred at the infamous Battle of Okinawa the vision was to relieve the 96th Infantry Division who charged with securing a section of terrain known as Hacksaw Ridge. The combat was fierce with heavy casualties on both sides. It was during this engagement that Desmond Doss demonstrates to the men who ridiculed him the true nature of conviction and bravery. Upon hearing the cries of the wounded and dying Doss runs back towards the action hoping some 75 men down the escarpment safety. He also treated several dozen others mending their wounds as best he could do that they could find their greater safety. Utilizing a requisite plot point that although based in truth is undoubtedly necessary for dramatic effect, Doss saves the life of a soldier that had once called him a coward. He also manages to rescue the Sergeant who drove home unforgiving the hard and attempt to break your spirit.

This is the first feature film Mel Gibson since ‘Apocalypto’ in the first film in a dozen years that did not utilize a ‘dead’ language. Mr. Gibson may be a very controversial figure many unusual situations documented in the tabloid news. Despite this, no one can deny that he is one of the most talented directors currently working in Hollywood. He manages to elicit performances from his actors that showcase the full versatility and intensity of their talents. An example would have to include Mr. Garfield’s credibility with any members of the audience took a hit because of a pair of movies that he was costumed in red and black spandex swinging from a harness in front of a green screen. After his performance in this movie is a foray into comic book films can be relegated to a footnote and what is certain to be an illustrious career ahead of him Reports that members of the Doss family were moved to tears by the authenticity of Mr. Garfield’s performance. The most crucial thing for an actor appearing in a biography is to avoid the tendency to do an imitation based on whatever historical material may be available. What Mr. Garfield achieves here was to capture the essence of a truly unique individual. Most people before going into combat would be terrifying even if were armed and trained to defend yourself. The very thought of placing yourself in such active danger carrying only a medic kit is unimaginable even for most of the bravest soldiers with the fought. Desmond Doss is credited with bringing 75 men down a 400-foot escarpment, traveling 200 yards into the combat zone to rescue a man, gave medical treatment to for men with 8 yards of a heavily defended enemy stronghold and within some 25 feet of active enemy fire treated over 100 men helping them to safety. Even after being injured by a grenade he demanded that the evacuation team remover more seriously injured man before removing him from the battlefield. This incredible life is innately difficult for any actor to attempt to portray, but Andrew Garfield did so deport himself with talent and respect while instilling the role the nuances that help make his character brutally identifiable though sitting in the audience.

At times it may seem that Mr. Gibson went overboard with his use of violence. It is unthinkable that any new go into watching the storm with any other expectations specifically after his ‘Passion of the Christ ‘and is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of brutal torture and execution. Unlike the so-called torture porn flicks that inundated the horror genre, the violence utilized here can be explicit but in no way gratuitous. There is no realistic way to all of the memory of this man and honestly, depict the magnitude of his actions without exposing the audience to the whole level of viciousness that occurs in war. It may be considered one of the most violent movies in recent history, exclusive of those that were created for exploitative purposes, the revolting nature of the savagery can only provide a shadow of what private Doss endured.

bulletDeleted Scenes
bulletVeterans Day Greeting with Mel Gibson
bulletThe Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge - A Comprehensive Documentary Detailing the Making of the Film, Including the Real-Life People and Story, Casting, Filming, Special Effects, Stunts, and Interviews From Mel Gibson, Andrew Garfield, and More.
bulletTheatrical Trailer

Posted 02/20/2017

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