Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 war film directed by Mel Gibson, based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II medic who served during the Battle of Okinawa. The film stars Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss, a devout Seventh-day Adventist and conscientious objector who refused to carry a weapon but proved instrumental in saving the lives of 75 soldiers during the intense battle.
Desmond Doss's Early Life
The film begins by introducing Desmond Doss as a young boy growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia, during the early 20th century. A traumatic incident involving his alcoholic father shapes Desmond's commitment to never harm another person, setting the stage for his unwavering pacifism later in life. We witness his values and strong moral compass, traits that will define him during his military service.
Romance with Dorothy Schutte
Desmond's character deepens when he meets and falls in love with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer). Their romance provides insight into Desmond's character, emphasizing his commitment to his beliefs even when faced with societal expectations. Despite facing opposition from his father and skepticism from others, Desmond remains resolute in his pacifist convictions.
The Army Enlistment
As World War II unfolds, Desmond Doss decides to enlist in the U.S. Army to serve as a combat medic, driven by a strong sense of duty to his country. However, his refusal to carry a weapon and adhere to the military's expectations sparks hostility from fellow soldiers and superiors. Desmond's determination to uphold his beliefs puts him at odds with the military establishment, leading to intense conflicts during basic training.
Perseverance and Discrimination
Desmond faces severe discrimination and bullying due to his refusal to carry a weapon, with some soldiers viewing him as a liability. His resilience in the face of adversity, coupled with his refusal to compromise his principles, earns him the respect of some, including Captain Glover (Sam Worthington), who recognizes Desmond's determination to serve as a medic despite the challenges.
Battle of Okinawa - Hacksaw Ridge
The climax of the film unfolds during the Battle of Okinawa, specifically on the cliffs of Hacksaw Ridge. The brutality of war is vividly depicted as soldiers face intense combat against entrenched Japanese forces. Desmond's unit is tasked with scaling the cliffs and taking control of the ridge, a mission that proves to be exceptionally perilous.
Heroic Acts on Hacksaw Ridge
Desmond Doss, without carrying a weapon, exhibits extraordinary bravery. As chaos ensues and fellow soldiers suffer devastating injuries, he tirelessly rescues and treats the wounded, lowering them down the cliff one by one. His acts of heroism become increasingly critical as the battle intensifies, and he remains on the battlefield even after darkness falls.
Redemption and Recognition
Desmond's heroic efforts result in the saving of 75 lives, and he becomes a symbol of courage and selflessness. The soldiers who initially doubted him now hold him in high regard, and he receives recognition for his actions, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, making him the first conscientious objector to receive this prestigious award.
Impact on Fellow Soldiers
Desmond's impact extends beyond his individual acts of heroism. His unwavering commitment to his principles inspires those around him, fostering a profound change in the attitudes of his fellow soldiers. The skepticism and hostility he faced have transformed into admiration and respect, highlighting the transformative power of individual conviction in the face of adversity.
Resolution and Return Home
The film concludes with Desmond returning home as a war hero, celebrated for his selfless actions on Hacksaw Ridge. He reunites with Dorothy, and the couple starts a family. The resolution emphasizes the redemptive power of courage, love, and unwavering commitment to one's principles, showcasing the enduring impact of Desmond Doss's extraordinary story.
The Ending: Legacy and Real-Life Footage
The movie concludes with real-life footage of the elderly Desmond Doss, showcasing the man behind the heroics. This adds a poignant touch to the film, grounding the narrative in the reality of the remarkable individual who defied convention and demonstrated the extraordinary capacity for compassion in the midst of war.
A Testament to Courage and Conviction
Hacksaw Ridge is a powerful portrayal of courage, conviction, and the human capacity for selflessness in the face of adversity. Desmond Doss's remarkable true story, brought to life through Andrew Garfield's compelling performance, serves as a testament to the transformative power of individual beliefs. The film masterfully navigates themes of faith, perseverance, and the profound impact of one person's commitment to saving lives amid the horrors of war. Mel Gibson's direction brings the Battle of Okinawa to life with intensity and brutality, while Desmond Doss's heroism remains a beacon of inspiration and hope in the annals of wartime history.