The film Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, is based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist from the hill country of Virginia. The United States entered World War II when Doss was in his early twenties. The young man found work in a shipyard and, despite being offered a deferment due to his work; he enlisted on April 1, 1942.
However, because of his religious beliefs, Doss was a pacifist and refused to use or even carry a weapon in combat. You can imagine the considerable abuse he suffered from other soldiers due to his pacifist position. Despite the abuse, he does finally become an Army medic. These events are all well portrayed in the first part of the film.
While some of the abuse Doss endures early in the film might be difficult to watch, much of the later portion shows war at its worst. Think of other Mel Gibson movies such as Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ or Apocalypto, but with all the brutality concentrated into one nearly unbroken sequence.
Doss fought in the Battle of Guam and Leyte, but this movie focuses on the Battle of Okinawa and the fight for the Maeda Escarpment where Doss saved the lives of 75 wounded infantrymen. This fight was brutal and is accurately portrayed in the movie.
Desmond Doss earned the Medal of Honor, and numerous other awards, including the Bronze Star Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster and "V" Device, and the Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
Those who fought in World War II are often called the greatest generation. What those men and women sacrificed for freedom is difficult to comprehend. I found myself wondering if I could have maintained my Christian principles, or even faith, under the onslaught of such epic evil and brutality. Hopefully, I will never have to face that question, but Desmond Doss did and held tight to his faith. I came away from the movie respecting Doss for both his courage and faith.
I recommend that you buy the ticket and see Hacksaw Ridge, but be forewarned this movie is rated ‘R’ for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence.