This is what Spider-Man should have been all this time. Here is what Ben Affleck should have done with Batman. Here is a true hero that outshines anyone wearing a colorful, shiny million dollar suit. In fact, all he has to suit him up and protect him from death is the holy word of God. He won’t even dream of laying either an eye or a finger on a rifle. If today’s superheroes can’t help us through gun control, then this real-life hero of Hacksaw Ridge can.
Just the first opening sequence alone is enough to tear your heart open and make a home there. Images of the battle on Hacksaw Ridge show the brutality of the historical event: there are more corpses than living souls, rats have arrived to feast off the remains, blowtorches incinerate whoever is left alive, and the heavy-handed music reminds you of what each soldier had to leave to fight for the important things.
The story kicks off in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where one boy goes too far in a fist-fight with his brother, nearly killing him with a brick to the forehead. Reminded of the antiviolence account of Cain and Abel, Desmond Doss feels immediate remorse for what he committed against his brother, and vows never to get involved with violence again.
At a much older age, Desmond finds love with a local nurse who has seen soldiers return from World War II. Their romance from here is as sweet and believable as any man would remember his first relationship, complete with a bluejay feather to represent the delicacy of their love. It seems here like director Mel Gibson is returning to his old bags of tricks with the romantic plot of Braveheart, but the vulnerable Church-boy accent by main actor Andrew Garfield wins over both men and women.
These small personal touches set up exactly why we should care about the tragic events that happen later, proving exactly what Gibson most succeeds at as a director. He’s not even afraid to put in some comic relief when it’s time for Desmond to join the army, where one of the first soldiers he meets is a narcissistic bodybuilder who loves exercising in the nude (except when it’s time for training). But once he opens up at Fort Jackson about being a pacifist, everything stops being funny. He won’t even tie a noose knot without it coming out shaped more like a heart. The rest of the army found it completely unthinkable that a soldier was enlisting with no ambition to even touch a gun, so what happens from here is a multitude of mixed emotions and unclear answers.
Hacksaw Ridge may seem at first like the typical war movie that resorts to the usual tropes, but experiencing the film proves how it does everything a gigantic leap further from the clichés. The drill sergeant, along with firing out his expected racist insults, also shows his compassionate side when necessary, and the war hero is not depicted as being purely in the right. Rather, he has one thing that’s getting in the way of him serving graciously on the battlefield: his pride in his pacifism.
That is why on the day of the first battle at Okinawa, it takes a chaotic series of uncomfortably long warfare segments to put this man of God to the test. This recreation of real events show us how this underestimated unarmed soldier saved hundreds of lives just by sticking to the word of God. You’ll be surprised even by how he treats the “enemy” that the army is sent to Hacksaw Ridge to destroy.
It’s not every day a movie like this comes around: a movie that tells one of the most inspiring true stories to come out of the darkest period of man’s history. While everyone else in this nation is concerned about unreliable self-righteous heroes like Batman, Superman, Captain America, Spider-Man, here is a hero who knows the importance of putting other lives ahead of his own, committing his service to unconditional love rather than destruction. Therefore, I encourage the instant-classic Hacksaw Ridge as immediate viewing to all, for the sake of our country and our definition of heroism.
With all these comic book movies dominating the box office and pop culture, anyone not yet matured could quickly assume that being a hero means possessing supernatural abilities and resorting to violence to solve problems. To you it may not sound like much, but considering how life imitates art and vice versa, this could be seen as a definite contributor to the rise of violence in our nation, and the feel of not being good enough because you don’t have “superpowers.”
This is why the story of Desmond Doss is a lifesaver: his story shows us all what it really takes to be a hero. No more of that supernatural powers to inflict damage nonsense, this real life hero is an average guy with nothing too special about him, and won’t even dream of firing a bullet for any reason. Yet despite not having any weapon of protection on the war field, he still saved many lives through his love and commitment to his service.
More people, particularly those with autism, need to understand the value Doss’s story offers to the well-being of the 21st century. He proves to every man, woman, and soldier that you don’t have to resort to violence to be a hero, but rather that being a hero is all about helping people and saving lives. Those on the autism spectrum need to understand how good, strong heroism starts with who they’re lead to look at as role models.
The first role model everyone naturally looks up to in life is their parents. They are the ones they look to when learning about how to talk, walk, eat, brush teeth, and think about certain things. They are the ones that a child asks about relationship advice, and asks when clarification is needed about what’s going on in the world. Whether people like to admit it or not, the parents or legal guardians are the most influential role models anyone will ever have.
That is why every parent needs to understand the importance of teaching good morals to their autistic kids.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #71: Remind Him of His Own Strengths.
Every child with autism has to know that they are always great at something, and they have a duty to use this greatness for the sake of helping others. And yes, it needs to be the parents/guardians who tell them that. If a child understands that the person they look up to the most is encouraging them to do great things with their strengths, then they’re more likely to follow suit. Anyone can be great at painting, but it does no good to use it for self-seeking means. If the painter is using her gift to illustrate her experiences serving the homeless, it raises greater awareness of a more important issue, one that will in time help countless people.
But of course, doing this kind of thing is simply not in the nature of one with autism to even consider.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #93: They Don’t Feel Sharing is Caring.
It took me many years to develop a gene for others’ interest. Until I was out of high school, consideration of another’s interests would rarely if ever even cross my mind. I only knew how to use what I was good at for my own means. If it weren’t for my parents and other role models I’ve met, I would never have thought of how to use what I’m good at specifically to help others.
That is what makes the story of Hacksaw Ridge so valuable, especially for today’s self-righteous violence-obsessed culture. It reminds us what makes a real hero with lasting impression, as to the selfless morals our heroes should really be living by. There are so many elements of media that teach millennials to be living for themselves, and to not listen to anyone who tries to make them live different than what their heart intends. But this WWII-era story says different: it says your life only has meaning when you sacrifice yourself with a legacy in mind. That’s what Desmond Doss did, and we’re still talking about him after all these years.
- Keep yourself active as the key role model of your autistic child. They pay more attention to you than you realize. If they feel you’re not paying attention to them, they’ll turn to other means through the TV and iPad screen to find role models they can connect with.
- Don’t let popular media figures teach your children right from wrong. Especially when one of your kids has autism, they don’t have the discernment to consider who else they’re affecting with what they imitate in the media. Or better yet, don’t let prolonged exposure to the wrong media figures (superheroes, cartoons) teach the wrong messages to your kids.
- Be using your strengths and interests as a way to help others and save lives. Don’t feel like you have to change who you are to fit the status quo. If Desmond Doss did that, he would never be hailed as a war hero. Do what it is you do better than anyone else in a way that benefits your loved ones.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Dziemianowicz, Joe. ‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ director Mel Gibson’s comeback film, is at war with itself: movie review. Digital image. NY Daily News. 1 Nov 2016. Web. <http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/mel-gibson-hacksaw-ridge-war-movie-review-article-1.2852623>.
Hacksaw Ridge. Web. <http://www.hacksawridge.movie/>.