Rating: R, Time: 2hr 19m, Director: Mel Gibson, Cast on IMDb
So what did you think of the film?
Initially, I was reluctant to see another WWII movie. I was like, aren't there enough of these movies to document every minute detail of the war already? What I liked about the movie is the heart wrenching tale of private Desmond Doss, who refuses to learn to shoot a gun once he joins the army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This leads up to a full court martial for his refusal to train like a normal soldier. Doss is played by Andrew Garfield.
Had you heard of such a tale before?
Once you hear that he is going to refuse the normal boot camp training and basically take on the definition of the army itself within the army, while at war with the Japanese, it throws you such a curve ball. I hadn't known of this tale of refusal to train that later leads to intense bravery. The background going into the story is good as well with the father-son back and forth over joining and how stupid it would be. The son Desmond insists on his moral duty besides his father, played by Hugo Weaving, telling him the horrors of his lost friends.
What did you take of Vince Vaughn as the commanding sergeant?
As you likely know, Hollywood is filled to the gills with short people for some reason. So having a tall character like Vince play the commanding officer gives presence. I liked seeing this actor in a non-comedy that helps flesh out the first contact of private Desmond in the army as well as their attack on Hacksaw Ridge. The team of soldiers fills out nicely with wild characters like Hollywood doing pull-ups naked, guys gambling over cards and other assorted characters.
What did you think of the girlfriend played by Teresa Palmer?
Well, in most of the movie she is a picture in a bible that Desmond keeps as ever Holy to have. He prays on Saturday every week and refuses to shoot from his upbringing by his mother Bertha, played by... She is a key reference for why he goes to war yet maintains his non-violent ways in the face of war. The scenes are played with the naivety of the 1940s good girl image. This squares with the type of girl that Desmond finds attractive, but maybe not exactly with war years. During wars, it is common that sexual mores actually loosen quite a bit, but in this movie I think the director chose wisely as it serves as an anchor for the movie.
Was there any changes you would make in the movie?
Well, one is that the movie briefly touches on the reason for the Japanese regard for Okinawa as this Island would be considered part of the traditional Japan and be regarded as worth fighting for to the death. The Japanese seem to have an impregnable hold on the Island because of the deep tunnels and bunker system on the top of the Island allowing them to dig in deep despite bombardment by battleship. I think they could have shown a speech of one of the leaders of the Japanese troops could have given this historical weighting for a completely ignorant audience. I was fine as I have studied in depth, but I think that could have improved the movies villains and why they fight to the death. In history the battle for the whole Island led to the death of 77,000 Japanese and 14,000 Americans and 114,000 Okinawans. As well as the battleship bombardment there were over 1500 kamikaze plane attacks on the Island. In the movie they show the surrender as last ditch grenade suicides and the traditional seppuku suicide sacrifice of its officers to avoid torture in capture.
Dorothy Schutte and Desmond Doss
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