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Hacksaw Ridge

January 7, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge is a movie which was released on November 9th 2016. It is a  biogrophical war film directed by Mel Gibson. The movie tells Desmond Doss’s action during World War II. Indeed he was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service above and beyond the call of duty. The main character was played by Andrew Garfield and the movie received a ten-minute standing ovation  after its world premiere at the 73rd Venice Film Festival.

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As the film tells us, Desmond Doss was a United States’ Army corporal and combat medic during World War II who refused to carry a weapon into combat. In the movie, the director chose to show us some episodes of his life that certainly could lead us to understand how he was and understand his singular vision at the time of the war. For example, the first image of the film we have is of his father who was an alcoholic due to his war experience during World War I. Indeed he had lost his best friends and was haunted by the horror he saw and lived through; he has the figure of a tortured man, violent but we still see him as a victim of human horror. As the movie goes on, we understand he is a good man who hates himself so much that he  becomes self-destructive. We can feel the omnipresence of war in which Desmond and his brother grew up and it has its importance in the film. To understand how Desmond became a singular hero, we have to talk about the importance of his beliefs. Indeed, when he was a child he fought with his brother like kids do, when he took a rock and hit his brother’s head. We can see in his child face, that he is petrified as he thought he killed his own brother. So he goes in front of a poster with the 10 commendments and espessially “you shall not kill” (indeed in France the movie was entitled “Tu ne tueras point”). This moment leads us to his mind and life philosophy that will explain his behaviour in the army.

So, when the war begins he feels his duty is to get enrolled in the army to help his country. But he refuses to use any weapon and to take any human life so he wants to get enrolled as a medic. In his training camp with his unity, he refuses to use the gun and to train with it; his sergeant has to declare it and he’s told in front of all the unity he will be a danger for them and won’t be able to protect them on the front, which leads to bad treatments from his team mates. He is beaten but never renounces even if that is what they all want. Moreover he never snitches on who beat him. This situation is not acceptable for the army and he risks jail, so there is a trial and he defends himself in front of the chiefs of the army, claiming he can go to the front and protect the men of the unity as a conscientious objector.This term designs an individual who claims the right to refuse to perform military service, they are pacifists, but they can (like Desmond) propose another form of service but just refuse to bear a weapon.

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                                                                                     Desmond Doss

If the film is entitled “Hacksaw Ridge”, that’s because his heroism got manifested there. On the front, after fighting, they had to reply but he chose to stay on the mountain beyond the big risks to help the hurt ones and when one was safe he repeated “one more” and said his strength came from God.

After this famous episode  where he saved the lives of over 75 infantrymen, they all started believing in him and respecting him. After that he got hurt and returned home. At the end of the movie, interviews with the persons who inspired the movie are projected and espacially, we have the testimony of 80-year-old Desmond Doss who always denied being a hero..

My personal opinion on this film is very positive. Indeed I found it very inspiring as he is a true hero. I think that whatever your beliefs are, and even if it talks a lot about believing in God, it is not encouraging you to share this belief but more to believe in him, in his courage and his goodness. Moreover, as the movie was shot with nowadays cinema’s technology, pictures of the war are really striking and shocking (dead bodies completely mutilated and I pass the details), the sound aloso emphasizes this oppressing atmosphere of human horror. But I would say that the character of Desmond Doss and his aim are bringing beauty to this horror and that is what this movie is : beautiful.

Céline

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