Monday, May 15, 2017

"Hacksaw Ridge", a Mel Gibson film

Awareness of this film here came while watching the Academy Awards presentation.  It seemed that Mel Gibson was being accepted back into the Hollywood fraternity.  Hacksaw Ridge was nominated for five or six Oscars and won two.  It was recognized at other award ceremonies as well.

The true story of a conscientious objector in WWII who served with extreme valor as a medic in the battle of Okinawa, it begins with a first half based on the life of Desmond Doss, the objector.  He grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains countryside in the vicinity of Lynchburg, Virginia.  The development of his faith in less than ideal circumstances is the storyline and his decision to volunteer for the Army was one based on fairness, the need to contribute to the war effort while still following his beliefs.  It was a challenge.

The second half of the movie is in the battle for Okinawa.  At this point it becomes unequivocally a Mel Gibson film.  The war scenes are gruesome.  It is more like the type of battles that have been described in the Civil War, with troops of both sides running headlong into battle and at times almost certain injury or death.  Hand to hand combat with knives and bayonets is part of the scenes.  Some reviewers have described these scenes with great praise, and if blood and guts is what is required the film delivers with abandon.

It was certainly a diverting film but not one that was groundbreaking.  The combination of unshakable religious faith with extreme violence may be intoxicating to some, or could be viewed as troubling by others.  By all accounts, both financial and recognition for the film making, this movie was a huge success for the formerly embattled Gibson.

Hacksaw Ridge did tell an amazing story.  That Desmond Doss grew up in territory well known here, woods walked and gently rising mountains climbed with my father and grandfather, gave me the illusion that I had insight into the Doss that the film was trying to explain.


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