Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 biographical war drama film about the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic who was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry or use a firearm or weapons of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty.

The film was directed by Mel Gibson and written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan, based on an earlier documentary about Doss, and stars Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Vince Vaughn.

Hacksaw Ridge received widespread positive reviews. It was chosen by the American Film Institute and National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2016 and has received numerous awards and nominations, including Golden Globe nods for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Garfield. The film was nominated for 12 AACTA Awards, winning the majority of awards, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for Garfield and Best Supporting Actor for Weaving.

Trailer: 

It was not easy for Gibson to get the movie made. After the war, Doss turned down many requests for books and films, because he was wary of whether his life, wartime experiences, and his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs would be portrayed inaccurately or sensationally.

Doss’ only child, Desmond Doss Jr., stated: “The reason he declined is that none of them adhered to his one requirement: that it be accurate. And I find it remarkable, the level of accuracy in adhering to the principal of the story in this movie.”

In case you are thinking the film is a documentary-like replicate of Doss’ true story, it is not. As mentioned by Doss Jr., it is accurate to the principal of the story. The film is clearly anti-war and some may find it religious.

The makers of the film took creative liberty with the true accounts, notably the backstory about Doss’ father, the incident with the gun Doss took out of his alcoholic father’s hands, and the circumstances of his first marriage.

The real Desmond Doss receiving a medal from then US President Truman

Nonetheless, I understand these are necessary as plot devices to better bring out the theme of the story and Doss’ character.

Don’t worry about this being a film for only the deeply religious. The pacifist angle is still something which I believe anyone can identify with. I am a freethinker and I enjoyed the film thoroughly.

A warning for those who are faint-hearted, there is a lot of gory scenes featuring blown-up limbs, mangled corpses, flowing intestines and such. The purpose is to bring out the shocking aspects of war on the ground and it certainly did. Hard to stomach, but this is the reality of war, with strangers killing and hurting each other.

Garfield is an excellent choice to play Doss. Most people remember him as just a pretty face who played Spider-Man, but he is a much better actor than given credits for.

Garfield found the idea of playing a real superhero much more inspiring and admitted that he cried the first time he read the screenplay. He took his role very seriously, visiting Doss’ hometown, touching his various tools to seek inspirations.

Garfield’s portrayal of Doss is moving and is most deserving of the slew of acting awards he harvested from this role. This is a major breakthrough for a well-deserved actor.

The film is a serious contender to win big at this year’s Oscars. It is now showing in Singapore cinemas. Go catch it!