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Movie Review

'Hacksaw Ridge' Deserves an Audience


Hacksaw Ridge ?is interestingly similar to the Gary Cooper classic Sergeant York. Both tell the supposedly true story of an unsophisticated young man with religious objections to killing, even in war, who goes on to win a Congressional Medal of Honor in combat without changing his religious beliefs, though only Hacksaw Ridge has him doing this without so much as touching a weapon.

Andrew Garfield's experiences in training are more sympathetic to the army than you can believe, but I've neither read nor heard anything doubting the accuracy of the story, and the deeds that won the Congressional medal are a matter of public record. The movie is anti-war, not anti-military.

But the last half hour or more gets into battle on Okinawa in World War II, and the brutality of what is shown outdoes Saving Private Ryan. Corpses and mangled body parts flash by as one imagines they would, and not all the casualties who are still alive are still complete; almost none can still move by their own muscle power. The company retreats back down the ridge, but our hero stays behind to rescue the wounded, whether they can survive or not. And it's hard to believe how successful he is.

Alvin York's achievement involved a lot of luck, but Garfield's medic Desmond enjoyed no such advantage, which makes Hacksaw Ridge more inspiring than Gary Cooper's classic, despite a few moments that are hard to believe. I hope it reaches the audience it deserves.