Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Stunner of a Film

In the last several weeks, I've seen a number of films, but haven't gotten around to writing them up. Well, that'll happen sometimes. Suffice it to say that most of what I've seen (from Dr. Strange to Edge of Seventeen) has been okay, but nothing that totally made me glad I'd seen it on the big screen. Other critics have mooned over these while I just -- didn't. Maybe it's end-of-semester doldrums; I don't know.

But there was an exception. Hacksaw Ridge. If you are old enough (do NOT take children to this - it's a "hard R" for graphic war violence, on the Saving Private Ryan opening scene level), go see this, then immediately put it on your "must buy" list.

Heaven knows, I've got my problems with Mel Gibson (one movie I've recently seen and loved was Peter Weir's Gallipoli, which stars a shockingly young Gibson), both in his on and off screen efforts. Let's limit this to onscreen - the man likes violence and has a penchant for lovingly filming horrific violence being done to his characters (Braveheart, I'm looking at you. You, too, Passion of the Christ). What lets him do this is the fact that he knows how to tell a story effectively and in Hacksaw Ridge, he's in top form.

Hacksaw Ridge tells the slightly fictionalized story of Desmond Doss (played so very well by Andrew Garfield), a Seventh-Day Adventist who enlisted during WW2 to become a medic. Due to his faith, he refused to so much as touch a gun, which made basic training very, very difficult. During the lengthy hellscape that was the Battle of Okinawa, Doss showed his courage time and time again as he rescued dozens of wounded men from certain death. In fact, some of his story is left out because the actual facts seem too incredible to believe - I encourage you to click here for the details comparing the movie to "real life." For his efforts, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, which they do not give out for perfect attendance.

In short, Doss held tight to his belief that it was both wrong to kill and imperative that he serve his country during wartime. How to balance those two competing beliefs makes for a compelling story.

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