Saturday, February 25, 2017

Couch Potato: Hacksaw Ridge

The Amazing Pvt. Desmond Doss

One last Couch Potato review before the Academy Awards. I just watched Hacksaw Ridge on dvd. I think it deserves to sweep the Oscars. History, however, tends to rhyme, so we may see a repeat of 1999 where the forgettable Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over what is widely considered to be the best war film ever - Saving Private Ryan. This year I think La La Land will win Best Picture. I haven't seen La La Land yet, but it is getting the most buzz.

Hacksaw Ridge is the amazing true story of Desmond Doss, portrayed by Andrew Garfield, a religious young man who vowed to never kill but nonetheless volunteered to be a medic in World War II. His dauntless courage saved 75 wounded men, earning him the Medal of Honor.

This is a film in three acts. In the first act, we get to know Desmond Doss the boy, and how he grows into his convictions. Hugo Weaving, as his alcoholic father who is wracked by WWI PTSD and survivor's guilt, dominates this segment. The second act is when Doss enlists and stubbornly tries to get the military to accept him as a square peg in an army of round holes. The final act is war, at it's most brutal, painful, and gory. If you've seen The Walking Dead - it was beyond even that. This segment is also deeply, deeply inspiring.

This film is unique in that I feel like I've gotten a real story, and not been emotionally exploited. I did some internet research afterward, and according to History vs Hollywood the movie does adhere very closely to Doss' life. There were some minor differences in the first two acts but the essence is there. In act three the difference is that they excluded some of what Doss did because they felt it would be too unbelievably heroic and miraculous.

Whether it wins an award or not, Hacksaw Ridge is a fantastic movie that you should not miss.


  1. Regarding the last part, Doss was in good company then.

    IIRC another MoH winner whose exploits were made into a movie, Audie Murphy, also had some of his actions toned down in the movie, albeit at his request because he thought that some of it would be too incredible to be believed if they were put on film.

    1. I just looked him up: "To Hell and Back" - still in print/dvd.

      There's another MoH winner who got a movie based on him - Al Schmid. The movie was Pride of the Marines. I did a post on it last year.

      It's so incredible and inspiring, the heroes of WWII.