Hacksaw Ridge- Did I Really Need Something Else to Keep Me Awake at Night?

hacksaw_ridge_posterI had my eyes covered for a good deal of the second half of the movie Hacksaw Ridge as the camera documented the devastation of war in the most graphic and grotesque way.  If director Mel Gibson thought we needed to be convinced about just how horrific war can be, he did a good job. As we follow the life of the main character Desmond Doss, a World War II army medic and conscientious objector who refuses to bear arms, Gibson shows us the heartbreak war can cause not only for the soldiers who are wounded but also for their families. One of the reasons Desmond becomes a pacifist is because he witnesses so much violence in his own home after his father returns from World War I suffering from a severe case of PTSD. 

The real Desmond Doss being awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman

The real Desmond Doss being awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman

I think Hacksaw Ridge is supposed to be a feel good inspirational movie, documenting the true story of a man who saved 75 of his fellow injured soldiers during the World War II Battle of Okinawa. Doss was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. But a couple of things about the movie troubled me.

Recreation of the barracks at the Amache Japanese Detention Camp at the Colorado History Centre in Denver

Photo I took at the Colorado History Centre of a model of the barracks at the Amache Japanese Detention Camp 

First of all the Japanese were portrayed as nameless villains called nips, a term that is an ethnic slur.  Although Doss also rescues several Japanese soldiers during the battle we are told in a kind of wink of the eye reference that ‘none of them made it’ when a commanding officer asks about their ultimate fate. At a time when many ethnic groups including Asians are becoming the target of racist comments  I was troubled by this stereotypical portrayal of the Japanese. One need only visit Hiroshima or talk to the children of Japanese detention camp survivors to see how devastating the war was for Japanese families as well.

Secondly I can’t distance the film from Mel Gibson’s personal life and career. He has been accused of  anti Semitism in his film making, and of racism and domestic violence in his marriage relationships. Of course I know you can’t always separate the artist from their art, but at this particular time in  history when the American president-elect has made racist, misogynist comments and yet people were able to separate themselves from that by still choosing to vote for him… I have to question the wisdom of separating people’s current careers from their past actions and words.  

I’m left wondering if I should have gone to see Hacksaw Ridge.  It’s not as if I needed something else to keep me awake at night!

Other posts about movies….

Golf Widow at the Movies

I’m Possible

What’s the Best Way to Raise Children?

Post about Japanese Detention Camps…….

An American Nightmare

 

2 Comments

Filed under History, Movies

2 responses to “Hacksaw Ridge- Did I Really Need Something Else to Keep Me Awake at Night?

  1. Bill

    “…racist, misogynist comments and yet people were able to separate themselves from that by still choosing to vote for him…” – Exactly! I’ve been very troubled by the justifications I heard from people pre/post election for a Trump vote. To me, It was simply unconscionable to promote a person of such low moral, personal, and professional character for what is arguably the most powerful and influential role in the world. How could I look my child in the eye and say “Yes, I helped elect him, but don’t ever talk or treat people the way he does”? His only credentials were extreme wealth and telling 60 million people exactly what they wanted to hear (Actually, that point probably scares me more than the election)!

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