Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A War Hero and His Faith in God: Thoughts on Hacksaw Ridge

Today I have a day off because it's the election day in some cities in Indonesia, including Jakarta. If you live in Indonesia, I'm sure you're aware that the election and the candidates for the governor of Jakarta have been hot topics these days. I've tried to follow the news and conversations about the election and the candidates just to, you know, keep myself informed and updated, but I find it quite hard to do that. I'm the kind of person who avoids arguments and confrontations, while talks about the election mostly take the form of heated arguments that involve sensitive issues like religion and race. I always cringe whenever I read or see news about the election.

Last week, when people were anticipating the final debate of the candidates, I chose to watch Hacksaw Ridge, not the debate. I know it may seem like there is no relation between the film and the election at all, but after seeing it, I feel like this movie has a story that is very important and needs to be heard by those people who are involved in those heated arguments and fights.

Hacksaw Ridge is based on a true story of Desmond Doss, played by my favorite actor who is now an Oscar nominee, Andrew Garfield. As a religious man who, as his father says, needs to sit down, think and pray before doing anything, Desmond joins the army to serve his nation. However, he refuses to use any weapon and kill his enemies as his religion teaches him not to kill. This gives Desmond a rough time during his training and an even more brutal experience on the battlefield as he insists to save lives instead of taking them.

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Academy Award nominee Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss
If you want to watch this film, you must know that this film contains very disturbing images that involve blood and body parts. Did I once say that Rogue One capture the harshness of wars? Well Hacksaw is on a higher level. The battle scenes are long and brutal. Luckily my friend Lia warned me about this before I saw this film, so I had the chance to prepare my heart and stomach first haha.

I know that some people think this films is a bit too dramatic, but I have to admit it really touches my heart. This film made me cry so much. I started crying five minutes into the film, I guess haha. There is a scene at the beginning, where deep regret slowly fills young Desmond's heart after he realizes that he almost kills his brother with a brick, that made me feel so connected to him. I could really feel him in that scene.

When Andrew Garfield takes over as adult Desmond, the connection that I felt didn't vanish. He has incredible scenes where he dramatically saves his wounded friends (75 of them) from a battlefield full of his nation's enemies alone. However, the scenes that really touched my heart are those where Desmond has these small talks with the people around him. The scene where he and Jack (Sam Worthington) talk as they're resting enables me to see Desmond from Jack's point of view. It made me think that Desmond is totally crazy and weird, but at the same time I realized that those qualities are the ones that make him different from others and admirable. The same thing happened whenever Desmond has scenes with his lady Dorothy (Teresa Palmer). Desmond's complex relationship with his dad (Hugo Weaving) is another emotional roller coaster. I couldn't hold my tears when Desmond tells the story of him holding a gun before his dad's head. He doesn't kill him but he says that he does kill him in his heart and swears that he will never use a rifle anymore after that. I cried with Hugo Weaving as he slides down the wall in front of his son in that scene. And then there is this scene where Desmond fails to save his friend Smitty (Luke Bracey) and has a breakdown. Smitty's last words ("I'm scared!") and Desmond's breakdown just gave me goosebumps. It's cool how Andrew is able to have such a strong chemistry with all his castmates. He is just amazing, like the amazing Spiderman (sorry I just can't help but adding this pathetic line hahaha).

After seeing this film, I spent some time thinking about it and realized that it is pretty relevant to the situation in my country right now. These days, a lot of people hate, fight and argue with each other when they try to defend their beliefs. There are people who hate those whose religions are different from theirs, and there are others who glorify their leader and see those who don't do the same as their enemies. It's just saddening, sickening and exhausting to see people hate and insult each other on a daily basis like that. When I saw Desmond in this film, I was stunned by how he could stay true to what he believes in without being aggresive at all. He shows me that we can fight with kindness and compassion as our weapons. He shows that strength and bravery that grow from kindness, compassion and faith in God are the greatest kinds of them. Desmond's story is a reminder that all religions teach kindness, not malice.

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"While everyone else is going to be taking life, I'm going to be saving it." - Desmond Doss

Besides that, I think this story also speaks to those who have been bullied by other people. I think all of us have experienced being laughed at because we do things a bit differently, being labeled as a weirdo, being told that we are ugly, wrong, pathetic, not good enough... Desmond has to face all of them too but he doesn't let that bring him down. I know it's not easy at all but, if you get bullied for being who you are, you should stay strong like Desmond because, as Desmond says, how are you going to live with yourself if you don't stay true to what you believe in?

So, Hacksaw Ridge feels like a very religious film for me. However, I think the message that it carries is universal and can be applied by anyone no matter what their religions or races are.

Rating :4,5/5

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