Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
9/10
Rich in Message, Rich in Meaning, Rich in Mel Gibson's Style
17 January 2017
Can you do something crazy? Can you endure the pain of being mocked and feel determined to go your way? No matter if you hesitate with the answer or not, here is a film you really should see.

Mel Gibson with his great comeback after 10 years is far from 'attentive exhibitionism' and from the very start, he calls our attention to the hero of his story who managed to „put a little bit of the world tearing itself apart back together." Yes, unique story rich in meaning and message where the inner world of the director seems to correspond to the inner world of the protagonist, Desmond Doss, as Robin Collin pointed out a „story of an outcast finding redemption through superhuman levels of suffering."

PROTAGONIST. Matt Zoller Seitz in his review on the film memorably observed that HACKSAW RIDGE is the movie which is actually 'at war with itself.' Following this track of argumentation, we can say that Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) embodies that contradiction. His inner convictions, his upbringing place him at war with the world around, arouse incredible dilemmas in him. The fight of the inside that he undertakes from the start is captivating. As a son of a desperate WWI veteran Tom (Hugo Weaving) who himself openly expresses bitterness of war and disappointment that arises from serving his country, Desmond fights with the haunting presence of his father's psyche within himself (though he cannot win completely) and develops his own convictions based on Faith and God's commandments, namely: Thou shalt not kill" The picture of Cain killing Abel that hangs in his house (also mentioned in Frances Doss's book) imprints a powerful trace in his memory. Innocent, genuine, physically weak but spiritually strong, he goes to serve the country. How? Without any weapon but medical stuff to protect life. In short, you remain a great human being even if you are placed, either by coincidence or some destined fate, in the worst hell imaginable. But what a way to the top….Consider mainstay aspect of climbing.

WRONG JUDGMENTS: A young man who initially evolves mockery rather than respect and rejection rather than acceptation personifies wrong judgments that people rush to indoctrinate and later find themselves in rather shameful finale. Mel Gibson, when taking about his film in one of the interviews, memorably stated that he himself wonders „if he could have that much faith that would enable him to crawl into a battle, to enemy fire without the weapon just to save other people's lives." What could drive this young man to handle that? Perhaps, one scene may sheds light on this aspect of courage that, as the film follows, absorbs us. After Smitty, his friend dies on Hacksaw Ridge and all meaning seems to have lost all meaning, Desmond asks God „What is it you want of me?" That scene most powerfully speaks to mind and soul: the profound and humble question of his existence is directed to God. Andrew Garfield does a splendid job as Desmond portraying his courage combined with seemingly retreating position, his openness to help combined with delusively reclusive solitude. Another powerful moments that Garfield handles with exceptional skill are the scenes when he justifies his convictions. The reactions around him are mesmerizing.We clearly see this clash between what the world could truly be and what the world actually is like depending on whether more and more people look deep down to their conscience. Seitz nicely mentions this saying that „they can feel the truth of what Doss is saying. But they can't imagine the world being anything other than what it is, a place ruled by brute force and cruelty."

OTHER CAST: Mel Gibson's film can really boast wonderful cast that make the story vivid and place it within a nicely framed whole. The one that first comes to mind is Vince Vaughn, excellent in the role of Captain Howell. Mel Gibson states clearly in one interview that he „inhabits the character" and Robbie Collin labels his performance as „his most roundly appealing" in at least a decade. He is brute to those boys but not without reason; he trains them and prepares them to the worst horror they will experience. Yet, as others, he is too absorbed by wrong judgments. Luke Bracey is very memorable as Smitty, a character who develops a profound relationship with the protagonist though, at first, he feels the superiority of his own looks and skills.

TERESA PALMER: As much as the second half of the movie emphasizes the Okinawa events and is, undeniably, a war movie, the majority of its first part is a love story. The beautiful Dorothy that Desmond meets by chance in hospital having saved a man's life after the automobile accident, is one of the most powerful and pure depictions of a woman in film. Gibson refer to her warmth. Their scenes (Dorothy and Desmond's) though naive at certain moments, are the most pleasant, innocent scenes between a man and a woman. She does a wonderful job in the film not resorting to sweetness yet simultaneously, not losing pure appeal. The scenes echo Gibson's style as well, particularly the moment they climb the rock and kiss… Kudos to cinematographer Simon Duggan. The psychological aspect is striking here...Desmond does his best, at the same time struggling not to be like his father.

'Mel Gibson managed to make a film about family, faith, love and forgiveness all put the test in an arena of violent conflict' (Peter Travers). HACKSAW RIDGE is another great gift for cinema of today. In times when war is raging in many places of the world and talks of peace seem to be mere words in vain, such a hero speaks to our Times. Don't give up to do something crazy for the world if you are with God and SAVE human life NOT KILL.
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