On Screen // Hacksaw Ridge
“God, just one more.” The famous line said by war hero Desmond Doss exhibits his heroism, bravery, and incredible selflessness. Ten years after his death, his story has finally been told.
Biopics are typically received well by audiences because of their authentic storylines, and Hacksaw Ridge was no exception. The Oscar-nominated film, directed by Mel Gibson, revolves around Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), who enlists in the Army but refuses to touch a rifle and kill someone. Considered a coward, he’s shunned by his peers. But as a combat medic, he proves to be much more heroic and courageous than anyone thought.
The film was almost a no-go. Doss, who passed away in 2006, faced inquiries about film projects about his life but refused until screenwriter and producer Gregory Crosby approached him. However, after Doss’ death, Crosby sold the project to Gibson, who finalized the movie deal in 2014.
The film isn’t like other war movies, foregoing extreme violence and excessive action scenes to focus on a man who is incredibly faithful to God and promises to save lives rather than take them. The highlight of the film was when, before climbing up to Hacksaw Ridge, the soldiers waited for Doss to finish praying.
Like most war films, Hacksaw Ridge has moments where it revels in the gruesome and gory. Dismembered body parts are openly shown, blood spewing from soldiers is closely shot, and screams for help are loud and tortuous. What sets Hacksaw Ridge apart, however, is its ability to situate the violence within a substantive plot.
Hacksaw Ridge may be one of the best war stories in recent years. The award-winning film is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Director, Picture, and Actor. Although this may be Garfield’s best performance in a film yet, it’s unremarkable when compared against his fellow nominees—he likely won’t win this year.
Films about war and extreme violence are always hard to watch for some, but the culmination of religion on the battlefield and great acting on Garfield’s part faithfully resurrected Doss’ legacy.