Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn, Goran D. Kleut.
Much is made of the hero, the person who can look insanity in the face and treat it with kindness, who can see the horror of war and find the grace to be compassionate to those who perhaps don’t deserve it but give each soul the benefit of their own internal wisdom.
Hacksaw Ridge is a film of history, of a war in which there were millions of losers, of disgrace and redemption and one that is a true must see, regardless of your position of war, of the futility and sometimes dishonour involved, it is a film in which blurred edges of right and wrong are thrown directly in the rising sun and in which the meaning of life is given honour.
Andrew Garfield excels as the consciousness objector Desmond T. Doss and his relationship with the male authority portrayed in the film, both in his father, played with great insight of what the forgotten generation of men felt between the two World Wars, and the ones tempered by the thought of revenge and indignity caused by the events of Pearl Harbour which brought the United States of America into World War Two. To stand between these different generations, one embittered by being overlooked for the sacrifice they made in someone else’s conflict and the ones who soon realise their own folly and terror at the sight before them on the battlefield; to place yourself as the kicking board by steadfastly refusing to pick up a gun and fire upon the enemy is to show incredible humanity and Mr. Garfield shows that beyond expectation.
With Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington capturing the cynicism inherent in the military uniform of dealing with the issue of consciousness objector’s wanting to serve their country but refusing to carry a weapon with passionate objectivity and Hugo Weaving carrying the damned, guilt and loss faced by his generation of World War One, this is as close to the masterpiece of Saving Private Ryan as cinema audiences could ask for.
The battle scene, the test for any film trying to depict the true horror of war might struggle to live in Private Ryan’s limelight but what Mel Gibson asks instead is that the audience cares about Desmond T. Doss, that they treat him with respect for his conviction and that is the difference between the two films, in the protagonist, in the way the audience sees war through a different set of eyes.
A magnificent film, a story that deals with courage in a distinctive way and one that many might find difficult to understand why it its power is in the hands of its conviction, ardent, loving to its subject matter to the point of good obsession and one that is bound to cause much discussion on the nature of consciousness objection, Hacksaw Ridge is a cinematic must.
Ian D. Hall