The Hacksaw Ridge is a movie that elaborates on the encounter of Desmond Doss an American combat medic in the battlefield during World War II and his unprecedented but bold move to step out and offer his services at the first line of war (Walton, 21). The movie was written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkken and directed by Mel Gibson who successfully led to its production in 2016. The story line in the film, is a breathtaking experience of a military medic with strong Christian values, more precisely, the seventh commandment the states; thou shall not kill. To remain loyal to Gods commandments and his faith, Doss refuses to carry a weapon throughout the war. On the other hand, being patriotic to his country and the medical profession, he has to offer medical help and evacuation of injured soldiers out of the battlefield. Therefore, he is engaged in the act of war as a first line combat medic of the US Army. The film is based on a real-life story of Doss who was later awarded a Medic of Honor for his extraordinary involvement and will to step out and offer his expertise in the battle of Okinawa. This paper seeks to critically review the film Hacksaw Ridge to illustrate the plot and events in the movie. Further, the paper establishes the themes in the film and how they influence various actors in the movie.
Review of Hacksaw Ridge
The cast begins by narrating the early life of Doss, a young boy leaving with his family in Lynchburg, Virginia. Doss, nearly kills his brother an event that changes his life on the need to obey the doctrines and commandments of God, which he is well aware since he is a strong Seventh Day Adventist Christian. The event reignites his will to keep the commandments and specifically the commandment that states; thou shall not kill. Later in the scene, Desmond offers assistance to a man injured by a car and takes him to a hospital. Here, his passion for the medical profession shows up in the way he uses his belt to stop bleeding from the man’s leg. At the hospital, Desmond meets Dorothy, a nurse at the facility. He falls in love with her, and they get into a relationship. She narrates to Dorothy that he desires to work in the medical field.
At the start of World War II, Doss decides to join the military to work as a medic, a profession he desired for a long time. His father being one of the combats involved in World War one is against the decision, but it does not stop Desmond from pursuing his dream job. However, before he leaves to for training, he proposes to marry Dorothy, a move that depicts actual religious upbringing and strict adherence to Christian values. Despite excelling physically in training, he is treated as an outcast by his colleagues because he refuses to handle a weapon; additionally, he refuses to attend training on Saturdays. At some stage in the film, they wrap and beat him up at night, but he remains loyal to his belief and the least expectation of many, he is reluctant to disclose his tormentors. His commanders; Sargent Howell and Glover fruitlessly try to dismiss him out of service for psychiatric reasons, they work hard to convict him of mental disorder and instability due to his behavior. The event is emotionally disturbing and demoralizing; Doss is depicted shouting out that he is not mad. Further, the commanders make a desperate attempt to make him drop out of the force at will by exposing him to hard labor; this does not destruct him from his course.
After the completion of basic training, he goes for leave with an intention to get married to Dorothy; however, his plans are destructed when he gets arrested for insubordination resulting from his refusal to carry a firearm (Make 37). While on trial, he refuses to plead guilty despite Dorothys’ attempt to convince him. According to Dorothy, if he pledges guilty he will be released without trial. Desmond views it as a test to his faith which he protects, and therefore he holds his ground. At a turnout of events, his charges are miraculously dropped, and he is free to marry Dorothy and return to the military.
Doss unit is assigned 77th Infantry Division which is assigned the task of going to war at the Okinawa, a war zone with expected encounter from the Japanese. While at the Okinawa, the unit is deployed to relieve another unit and they are tasked with securing The Hacksaw Ridge from the control of the enemy. There is an enormous exchange of fire, and the fighting in the battle zone is deafening, many soldiers are injured, and a good number killed. Doss saves many of the soldiers, some who are severely wounded, he evacuates them to safety and provides medical assistance to the soldiers. When nightfall, he is forced to seek refuge in a fox hole where he shares the hideout with Smitty, a colleague who had earlier termed him as a coward, but is now admiring his courage. Doss uses this opportunity to explain to Smitty that his refusal to handle guns resulted from an incident where he almost killed his father when he picked a quarrel with his mother (Westwell 76).
At daybreak, Japanese soldiers aggressively launched attacks that resulted in the death of many soldiers among them Smitty, this attack also forced the American troops to retreat and descend the Hacksaw Ridge. However, Doss boldly decided to save the injured and evacuate them to a safe position down the cliff for further medical assistance. In a move that showed great courage and patriotism, doss ferries the injured and sends them down the cliff with the help or a rope. Among those saved war Howell. To this end, his colleagues view him as a hero, and they vow not to leave him behind in the next attack which is to take place on a Saturday- the Sabbath day (Westwell, 76). Doss, has to compromise his faith o this day and he joins his colleagues in the battlefield.
The movies is a fist hand experience into the battlefield, depicting the theme of patriotism, loyalty and faith. Doss, is the main character in the film and is portrayed as somebody with strict adherence to his faith and believe while at the same time dedicated to work for his country and serve his fellow soldiers.
Make, E. M. S. “The Practical Medic.”
Walton, Rodney Earl. “Memories from the Edge of the Abyss: Evaluating the Oral Accounts of World War II Veterans.” Oral History Review 37.1 (2010): 18-34.
Westwell. G. “Hacksaw Ridge.” (2017): 76-76.