One Man’s Heroics In ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

November 15, 2016

By Tiffany Skelnik

 “Hacksaw Ridge”, directed by Mel Gibson, is a film about Desmond Doss, a private in the U.S. Army during World War II, and a conscientious objector, whose actions in Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa earned him the Medal of Honor.

In the film, Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss. Garfield’s performance is fantastic.  He demonstrates courage and strength making Doss someone the audience wants to root for, regardless of is views. Like his character, Garfield’s performance is humble and understated. Through Garfield’s performance, the viewer experiences the horror of war and the bravery that it takes to stand by what you believe in even when everything else is stacked against you.

Another performance that stood out in the film was Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell. Vaughn’s portrayal of Howell was intimidating, paternal as well humorous. His scenes during the training portion of the film brought some laughter as well as highlighted the harsh reality of what Doss had taken on by enlisting in the army. Vaughn’s scenes with Garfield were some of the film’s best, and it was a pleasure to see the respect between the two men.

Teresa Palmer, who played Doss’ girlfriend turned fiancée turned wife Dorothy, was a breath of fresh air. Her performance showcased Dorothy as supportive and caring towards Desmond. Her presence is felt throughout the film through Doss’ love for her, which motivates him in addition to his faith. 

Mel Gibson’s directing direction was as phenomenal as the performances. He held nothing back and fully displayed the horror and heartbreak of war. From harshness of training and Doss being ostracized from his unit for his views to the climatic battles and rescues, the viewer sees it all and is placed in the same dilemmas and traumas as the soldiers he or she is watching on screen. The depiction of Gibson’s vision separates “Hacksaw Ridge” from a history book or biography. 

This film was fantastic and I can see it being an Oscar nominee. I would recommend it to fans of war films and history, as well as anyone who wants to see a well-crafted tribute to one of America’s heroes.

skelfitt@my.dom.edu