It’s been a while since my last film ranting. Over the past six months, a handful of movies I have seen – movies have been among the rare things can help distracting the mind. Worthy to speak of afterwards were not many, since some were good for a while, some last until the credit screen appear, but this one – it’s worthy of more than just a bookmark on IMDB listing.
The story of Hacksaw Ridge
As usual, you always can find the plot, written in much more precise language and expression, just by Google its name. Long story short, Hacksaw Ridge is 2016 biographical war drama film about Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic, a Seventh-day Adventist Christian (among sets of doctrines there is Ten Commandments), refusing to carry or use weapons of any kind, because he deeply believed in and faithfully followed the Seventh Commandment – “Thou shalt not kill”. Doss became the first and only conscientious objector (an individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service, on grounds of freedom of thought, conscience or religion) to be awarded the Medal of Honor – America’s highest military honor for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.
The movie is directed by notoriously black-sheep public figure Mel Gibson. As much as highly lauded for his works as a director: Braveheart (1995), The Passion of the Christ (2004), Apocalypto (2006), he remains known for domestic-violence accusation, allegedly racist viewpoint and alcoholism issue. Now, forgive me if I paint the director in unfavorable light, but if the man who creates a masterpiece is a scumbag – does it make the piece of art itself less worthy? Well, you gotta use your own eyes and mind to seek the answer for that.
Speaking of movies, I wouldn’t dwell too much on the director, or cinematography, or film-making techniques whatsoever, ‘cause it’s way out of my league, yet I do have a thing for good movies that decently made, good script and acting – those things speak straight to your heart, evoke your emotions, leave you thinking about it and feel touched by it. Hacksaw Ridge can really do the job that not many can these days, if the job is as simple as keep your eyes fixed on screen and not look down to your phone.
Andrew Russell Garfield has officially shrugged off his boyish charm, playing the fragile-looking Desmond Doss but having the strongest heart and will of all. Garfield, born 1983, has started his acting career since 2004, gained international attention since 2010 with The Social Network, became insanely famous for his portrayal as the title character The Amazing Spiderman in 2012. Being a professional actor, he works hard, he works smart – he doesn’t let himself being typecasted as a charming, quirky face to become safely famous, but choose to invest more time and effort in movies/script that requires dedication, sacrifice but does not guarantee success.
Hacksaw Ridge won’t be the only historical drama you see Andrew starred in, he also played in Silence, directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s a coincidence when in both movies, he was casted as a man of faith who is in crisis. For Hacksaw Ridge, Garfield devoted three months of prep to the Gibson film, studying a documentary about the man he portrays and retracing many of the steps of his life.
I’m not a religious person, I don’t understand his frustration nor his pain while he was asking for his God’s instruction. I do know, when a person possesses a strong and devoted belief, sometimes miracle happens. In Desmond’s case, he was successfully rescue a total of 75 left-behind-and-injured soldiers, by his own hand and under the unceasing rain of fire of Japanese army.
For every soldier Desmond lowers down the ridge to safe place, he prayed: “Please Lord, help me get one more”. All he asked, was one more person he could save. He did not ask for himself to get out of that hell safe, he did not ask for war to end, he did not lay down in despair. He only focused his mental and physical strength in one thing – bring as many people as possible to safety without questioning whether he could walk out of there alive. It’s a miracle indeed, one that is impossible to imagine even in fictions. But true events have always been stranger than fictions, it’s just not our turn to witness it yet.
Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Desmond Doss was convincing, from the silent endurance upon being picked on by his fellow soldiers, keeping to his principles to the point of eccentric stubbornness, to the unexplained determination to save rather to kill for survival – all such expressions were depicted in most natural way of acting.
Garfield became one with his character “Desmond” through the eyes of a man of faith, who believes in his God, believes in God’s way of planning things out, and he just needs to follow the commandments and principles as stated. It’s hard to say how the same man with this strong belief can be seen during this modern day; but when trouble comes, when hardship hits us, the feeling of being lost without a spiritual support is understandable. It makes us weak, and scared. Whatever your belief is, it does matters that you believe in something and stand by it, put your whole heart in it and see that faith blossoms into something beautiful.
How Desmond prayed “Help me get one more” is equally important to each of us to remember: “Help me get through one more day”. It is not easy, it is not a bed of rose, it is not a child’s play, it is the hardship we all must endure, overcome, find a way to deal with before we can breathe a sigh of relief. It is wonderful to be alive, and we will have to do it while being hurt by it. After all, nothing worth having comes easy.