The True Story of Miracles in the Middle of War


War-themed films usually show how a brave hero takes up arms and repels his enemies. But in Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, the hero is portrayed differently.

This film adapts the true story of an American medic in World War II named Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield).

The story begins when little Desmond got into a fight with his brother and he accidentally hit his head with a rock. Luckily his brother survived, but the incident traumatized Desmond. The reason is, if his brother dies, Desmond violates God’s sixth commandment, namely the prohibition of killing.

Desmond’s father, Tom (Hugo Weaving), is a World War I veteran who suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) due to the death of his comrade in arms. Tom gets drunk and almost shoots his wife (Rachel Griffiths).

This became one of the main motives why Desmond firmly refused to hold a gun when he joined the military. In fact, while training with the United States military at the Fort Jackson military base, Desmond is one of the most superior in physical training sessions.

Desmond started getting into trouble when he refused to hold a gun and didn’t train every Saturday. This makes Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Jake Glover (Sam Worthington) angry and want Desmond out of Fort Jackson.

This makes Desmond dragged to prison on charges of violating the rules. Captain Glover, aware of Desmond’s potential, asks him to admit his guilt before a judge in order to be released. But Desmond chose to remain firm in his stance.

Screenshot of the movie 'Hacksaw Ridge'Screenshoot of the movie ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Photo: Doc. Image of Mark Rogers/Cross Creek

So, what is the judge’s decision on Desmond? What made Desmond a hero in World War II when he refused to hold a gun? If you’re curious, you can watch the full Hacksaw Ridge movie on the available streaming platforms.

Mel Gibson managed to work on Hacksaw Ridge well. The film, which is divided into two contradictory acts, is able to become a unified whole. The first half is light, there is only emotional family conflict and romance between Desmond and Dorothy (Teresa Palmer). The second half is described as hell with bloodshed on the cliffs of Okinawa.

Just like Mel Gibson’s previous films, he does not hesitate to bring violence in his films. When the soldiers first set foot on Okinawa, they were greeted with drops of fresh blood, crushed bodies, and scattered corpses.

Hacksaw Ridge became one of the most realistic war visualizations after Saving Private Ryan (1998).

Desmond’s character is also very well built in this film. The first act explores the reasons why Desmond is so steadfast in his beliefs which makes his motives even stronger. He is not a “holy” person, but just an ordinary person who is haunted by past trauma.

Desmond Doss doesn’t take up arms and kills his enemies. But he managed to save many of his comrades’ lives while on the battlefield.

If many people had Desmond’s mindset, would there be peace in the world? Overall, Hacksaw Ridge managed to present the hero from an unusual point of view.

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