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Movie Review: ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

“Lord, help me save just one more!” That was Desmond Doss’s prayer as he carried or dragged wounded soldiers one by one from the battlefield where they had been ambushed by the Japanese.

Doss was an American pacifist combat medic and a Seventh-day Adventist who refused to use weapons, but wanted to serve his country during WWII. His division was fighting the Battle of Okinawa, trying to take over ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ when the Japanese counterattacked and push the Americans back. As artillery fire kept them at bay, Doss managed to save 75 of his mates by rappelling them over the ridge. His bravery inspired the Americans to reclimb the cliff and succeed in winning the battle.

Mel Gibson directed this movie and it reminds me of “Saving Private Ryan,” with its intense battle scenes. It has been nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and I can see why. It starts off as showing why Doss was a conscientious objector, having nearly killed his brother, Hal, and his belief in the Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.”

Later when he brings an injured man to a hospital, he meets a nurse and his future wife, Dorothy. Over his father’s objection, he enlists in the Army, but his refusal to carry a weapon makes him a target of ridicule and even beatings. His sergeant tries everything to get him to quit, but Doss perseveres, even when he is court-martialed. When his father introduces an Act of Congress allowing conscientious objectors to serve, the charges are dropped. Before being deployed to the Pacific, he and Dorothy get married.

Ironically, when Doss’s sergeant is one of the wounded he rescues, we see him confess that he had misjudged him and apologizes for being so tough on him. When Doss is wounded as the Americans retake the Ridge, the sergeant makes sure he is brought back safely.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is rated R because of the battle scenes, but it is a movie very appropriate for our times. When I saw how Doss was discriminated against for his beliefs, it reminds me of today’s discrimination for followers of certain faiths. Hopefully the message of tolerance displayed here will help bring more civility to the world. I hope you get a chance to watch this excellent movie. I highly recommend it.

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