I am a fool. Why had I not been the most eager person ever to see the film Hacksaw Ridge? I have seriously no idea right now, I’m trapped in a film hangover.
Admittedly I’m not a massive Andrew Garfield fan, so my own aesthetic preferences were blinding me in ignorance. Again, with Mel Gibson as the director I sort of wrinkled my nose, but my god someone punch me in the face for thinking like such a human.
Regardless of previous opinions I’ve had on these two as actors/director, this film is the one you need to see in 2017 if not anything else, trust me.
Based on a true story during of a World War II combat medic Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during one of the bloodiest battles of the war without firing a single shot. Believing that war was but killing was nevertheless wrong, he was the only American soldier not to carry a weapon on the battlefield. He single-handedly evacuated the wounded near enemy lines and facing enemy fire and putting his own life on the line.
In the beginning we see Desmond as a young boy and how he play fights with his brother and after an accident he learns a valuable lesson, as well as dealing with his own Father domestically abusing his Mum. A hard upbringing, that wasn’t entirely his Father’s fault (a WWI soldier who lost all of his friends) we see Desmond develop into a well respected young man who falls in love with Dorothy, a nurse at the local hospital. Safe to say the romance blossomed and it was incredibly sweet, and I just adore how love at this time was so spontaneous. Proposing at any given chance, and just grabbing at life.
Desmond and Dorothy’s time together is cut short when he suddenly decides to join up with the rest of the men in his town to enlist for the war, understandably he didn’t want to be left behind while other men would be fighting for their countries freedom. However, different from most soldiers Desmond’s religious beliefs he is a conscientious objector. Meaning he refuses to use a weapon and cause harm to others, killing in his eyes is simply wrong.
The haunting voice of Desmond praying to God to give him the strength to save “just one more” is playing through my mind, as he’s ducking bullets, grenades and covering himself in the debris of the fallen soldiers to stay alive whilst trying to reach every injured solider he could help.
I thought Saving Private Ryan was bit much, but my god this film didn’t hold back. Bodies ripping in half, others exploding into a million pieces, more being burnt to death and just horrors you never could have imagined. It was raw, and none of it was tarnished. The camera didn’t turn away when a shot was taken, no blindfold to protect you from the reality of war. It was shocking, in the most heart-wrenching way that I myself was sitting in the cinema praying that Desmond didn’t die. I honestly was at the edge of my seat, picking my nails to death with nerves and heightened emotions. All of it felt incredibly real, and as much as it was terrifying it was brought to life in the most brilliant way that I feel very moved and I’m just alone with my thoughts of all those who actually fought in the wars for real.
I haven’t felt this emotional connection with a film since seeing The Imitation Game, and how a man such as Alan Turing could be scrutinised for his sexuality despite his war efforts in cracking enigma and the effect it had on the remaining years of the war. With Desmond its different, with him I was warmed by how selfless he was. He stated from the beginning he wasn’t to kill anyone, but save them if he could. Climbing up Hacksaw Ridge without a weapon, having the belief that his God would keep him safe and that he can be just as much a soldier as everyone around him. The word bravery doesn’t seem to justify what Desmond had done, he’s a real hero.