Hacksaw Ridge: Faith-full heroics on the battlefield

November 3, 2016

Exclusive interview on YouTube: Australian actress Teresa Palmer​, who plays Dorothy Schutte in Hacksaw Ridge​, speaking to The Salvation Army in California about growing up around The Salvos in Adelaide. Both Palmer’s mum and grandmother volunteered at the Salvos and Palmer recalls that’s also where they shopped. 

Hacksaw Ridge (MA) 
Rating: 5 / 5 


After a decade-long absence, Mel Gibson is back, and he’s back with all guns blazing as director of Hacksaw Ridge.

An anti-war, war movie, Hacksaw Ridge is also a down-home cheesy romance and a fish-out-of-the-water ‘geeky kid makes good’ movie. 

Most of all, though, it is a compelling, true story of one man’s enduring faith in God, and his heroic sacrifice.

Desmond Doss remained faithfully devout to his beliefs when everything and everyone around him tried to compel him to act otherwise, but that faith inspired a generation of American soldiers and earned Doss the esteemed US Medal of Honor. 

Doss (played by Andrew Garfield of Spiderman fame) is duty-bound to sign up to military service after the Pearl Harbour attacks, but as a committed Christian believes that his adherence to the sixth commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ makes him a ‘conscientious co-operator’. 

Because Doss won’t even pick up a gun let alone fire one, he’s seen as an aberration in his unit. It all ends with the potential of court martial and imprisonment for Doss, but he digs in, determined to stand firm in his convictions. 

By way of a kind of miracle initiated by his abusive, alcoholic veteran father (the brilliantly understated Hugo Weaving), Doss is allowed to take up a position as a medic during a pivotal battle in Okinawa (Japan). With nothing more than a helmet, his medical supplies and his Bible, complete with a photo of his sweetheart Dorothy (played by the luminous Teresa Palmer) he heads into a bloody battle. 

It was never going to be pretty, but Gibson’s portrayal of the battle scenes is unflinchingly brutal and may prove too much for some viewers; yet we’re left with no question as to some of the devastation that these men bravely faced. 

The company is led by Sam Worthington (the Captain) and Vince Vaughn (Sergeant) who could represent the most cynical of cinema-goers. As the story progresses, they’re forced to reassess the apparently strange Doss and his heavenly musings and gestures. Doss becomes the bravest of any of the soldiers when he ends up saving the lives of 75 men left for certain death.

Australians should be proud to note that the film was made here (Fox Studios in Sydney) and that so many of our actors and technicians were involved in such a world-class product. 

Hacksaw Ridge reminded me of the Salvation Army Red Shield chaplains during both world wars. Brave men like ‘Fighting Mac’ and my own grandfather Bill Shaw were often called ‘sky pilots’ because they relied on the sky (God) for their protection. 

As my grandfather used to say, and Desmond Doss could confirm, even though soldiers openly mocked them sometimes, there were ‘no atheists in the trenches or foxholes’.

Highlight: Incredible true story
Red flags: High-impact battle scene violence



Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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