• Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jan 3 18:06:36 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: Desmond Doss was brutally mis-treated in the
    WWII army because as a religious contentious objector
    he refused to even touch a gun. He became a medic and
    then was the hero of a battle for a small piece of
    Okinawa. The film is full of pieces familiar from other
    films, but the realism and carnage possibly even go
    based on a true story and directed by Mel Gibson. The
    film is of epic length, 140 minutes and certainly parts
    are a harrowing experience to watch, not to say
    terrifying. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

    Mel Gibson delivers a strong film about real life hero Desmond Doss
    (played as an adult by Andrew Garfield, as a teen by Darcy Bryce).
    From an early age he refused to kill. The film covers his youth
    and relationship with an abusive father (Hugo Weaving). He finds
    love with Nurse Dorothy Schutte (blue-water-eyed Teresa Palmer).
    Then he goes into the army only to face persecution for beliefs and
    his refusal to touch guns. Then the script follows the anticipated
    trajectory. The latter part of the film is mostly about taking and
    holding the eponymous Hacksaw Ridge, a cliff--not as high as
    portrayed in the film but still a formidable target. The only way
    up the cliff is by climbing a cargo net used as a rope ladder.
    (Though the film does not show it, Doss was one of three men who
    heroically volunteered to climb the cliff and hang the cargo net.)
    See the "History Vs. Hollywood" link below for a comparison of the
    action and the historical facts.

    The script by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight generally sticks extraordinarily closely to the historical facts. The problem with
    the script, based on a previous documentary, is that so many of the
    sequences and situations of the film were previously dramatized in
    films long before the script was written. Even if they are true,
    which apparently they are, the film has sequences familiar from THE
    several more. It may just be that there is not that many different
    ways to tell a similar story. This one has a religious overlay,
    firmly establishing and reminding us of Doss's strong relationship
    with God and his religion.

    What is unique about this film is the great lengths the film goes
    to recreating realistically and accurately the confusion and
    carnage and horrors of warfare. Some of this requires a strong
    stomach. At least director Mel Gibson spares us extreme close-ups.

    One odd touch is that Doss, who would later awarded the
    Congressional Medal, is shown giving aid and comfort to an un-
    captured enemy soldier, which is quite literally the definition of
    committing "treason." Another touch that may be of interest: the
    film, directed by Gibson, has a character named Irv Schecter
    presented in a positive light. Some of my readers will know why
    that is interesting.

    Andrew Garfield does not look at first take like someone who would
    be a war hero, but then neither did the real Desmond Doss. He does
    make this role his own. I rate HACKSAW RIDGE a +3 on the -4 to +4
    scale or 9/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    A comparison of film and fact: <http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/hacksaw-ridge>

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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