Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L)  RogerEbert.com (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review
RogerEbert.com (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review 

Hacksaw Ridge [2016] (directed by Mel Gibson, screenplay by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan) I recently had the opportunity to see at an early screening held at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange Pastoral Center here in Southern California.   The auditorium which seated several hundred people was packed, and the film about WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (played in the film by Andrew Garfield) was enthusiastically received by the audience even as it depicted quite graphically the close-quarter battlefield violence of the Battle of Okinawa.

About the violence.  Yes, PARENTS this is a legitimately R-rated movie (for said violence).  But this portrayal of battlefield violence DEFINITELY HAS A POINT.  IMHO it _certainly_ serves to further / deepen the point / message of the story.  Yet, dear Readers, the portrayal of violence in this film is definitely NOT inconsequential.  (A close friend of mine asked subsequent to the screening how the violence in the film would compare to, for instance, the Omaha Beach landing scene in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan [1998].  I'd honestly put it closer to the violence depicted in video games like Grand Theft Auto, THOUGH AS I CONTINUE TO STRESS _WITH A POINT_).

What would be the point?  Well first the film certainly does not diminish the heroism / sacrifices of the others, combatants, in Doss' unit (portrayed, among others, by Vince Vaughn playing Doss ' sergeant and Sam Worthington as his unit's commanding officer).  This was War.  In the War in the Pacific during World War II, the U.S. Army was fighting a determined, arguably fanaticized enemy that (1) did not respect the humanity of their opponents and (2) was TRULY willing to fight to the very last man rather than surrender to them.  In this context, Doss was honestly (and IMHO honestly portrayed) as at least initially _at minimum_ "an oddball."  After all, there's the famous American Army motto: "Lead, follow, or get the Hell out of the way..."   AT MINIMUM, Doss who was "willing to serve (as a medic) but NOT willing to take up arms (fight)" seemed ... "in the way."  But ...

... that's of course the Story ;-).  After a particularly gruesome battle on top of "Hacksaw Ridge" there, on Okinawa, (I _don't_ wish to get into SPOILERS ...) Doss DID IMHO TRULY _EARN_ his Medal of Honor, the first of only three ever given to non-combatant "conscientious objectors" in the history of the United States.

And, of course, his Conscientious Objection was rooted in his Christian Faith.  It does make for _a remarkable story_ and I do believe that the story was HONESTLY PORTRAYED.

Honestly Good to GREAT job to all ;-). 

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