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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Conscientious Objector

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The movie starts with a reenactment of some bleak WWII footage of battlefield carnage followed by a (modern) Bible quote:

Isaiah 40:28-31 New International Version (NIV)

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

We then are transported back 15 years to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where two boys Desmond (Darcy Bryce) and his older brother ‘Hal’ Doss (Roman Guerriero) play rough­house in the hills (“It's them Doss kids, crazy as their old man!”) A near-tragic misadventure makes Desmond swear off violence.

When war breaks out in 1945, his quick intervention saves an accident victim from dying, and at Lynchburg Hospital he meets pretty local nurse Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer) whom he falls in love with. He follows Hal to enlist in the Army though he's sworn off guns—he's a pacifistic Seventh Day Adventist. As a medic he labors on Hacksaw Ridge amidst the horror seen at the beginning, called of God to save the wounded after the rest of his company had abandoned the hill.


The venerable, old King James Version (KJV) Bible that Dorothy gave Desmond (Andrew Garfield) is precious, preserved, carried, read and quoted (“Thou shalt not kill”) until the end of the war (“Love one another.”) We easily recall its familiar passage:

Isaiah 40:28-31 King James Version

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

These are different words than those displayed at the beginning, because it's a different translation. Changing trans­lation is not recommended, because it inter­feres with our familiarity, but the Bible publishers instituted the update in part to make more money. Make more money with a new trans­lation to sell. But the copy­right law requires that a work be different enough from other works to be unique, whence the monkeying with familiar text. God is not interested in such money making schemes. See, (Psalm 50:12-15) “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanks­giving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” We're more attuned to God if we have his memorized word cherished in our hearts, which means continuity, not fiddling with it.

(Psalm 50:16-17) “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee.” The NIV trans­lators' rejection of the KJV words may seem inconsequential in the Isaiah passage above, but this film also deals with corporal punishment in raising children, so how would it affect that? The NIV is what's known as a "dynamic trans­lation": idea for idea rather than word for word. How do modern ideas affect the biblical mandates?

(Prov. 19:18) “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” It now would read, (Prov. 19:18 NIV) “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” There's no mention of any physical punishment that would bring tears.

(Prov. 20:30) “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” That's on the order of receiving shots, some­thing that happens a lot in this movie: a little prick with a great internal benefit. It now becomes, (Prov. 20:30 NIV) “Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.” No specific mention of a mark, albeit temporary, left in discipline now.

(Prov. 23:13-14) “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” Sort of like beating the hell out of him. (Prov. 23:13-14 NIV) “Do not with­hold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” Spank yes, but don't beat him to death.

In a childhood scene in the movie, the boys are tussling, and their mom wants their dad to intervene. Tom's response is to let them fight it out, then he just has to whup the winner. All of it is male bonding, the alpha male caringly intervening when necessary.

On “The Andy Griffith Show” an episode (1968) had Andy's little boy Opie kill a bird with his sling­shot. When confronted Opie asked his father if he was going to whup him (as expected.) Instead, Andy opens the window and let's his boy—who had lost his mother a year ago—hear the baby birds chirp for their mother who would never return. Opie learned responsibility and raised the fledglings himself.

In this movie their childhood tussle got out of hand when Desmond brained his brother with a brick (“What the hell have you done?”) Desmond then meditates on a religious display, the words, “Thou shalt not kill.” He realizes, “I coulda killed him.” His mother adds, “Murder is the worst sin of all.” This is a completely formative moment in his young life.

While the kids are moping about, one of them injured, we note that both are wearing wife­beaters. This hints that this movie also has lessons on how men are to treat women. The NIV was copy­righted: 1973, 1978 & 1984, a time when our English language under­went deliberate modification due to problems (some) women had relating to men. Said Rush Limbaugh, “It's almost as if America went through its own feminist Cultural Revolution in the 1970s and early 1980s. Every­thing went mad for about ten years, and only now [1992] are we seeing young people who now view those years as some­what bizarre” (191).

The feminists had a particular dislike of the song, “Born a Woman” that included the words, “A woman's place in this old world/ Is under some man's thumb.” The expression ‘under his thumb’ derives from English common law that held that a man may beat his wife, but the switch he beats her with cannot be thicker than his thumb. Desmond not eating meat had a physique that was particularly thin, especially by comparison to the other more buff recruits. Said his drill Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn), “I have seen stalks of corn with better physiques.” Desmond did, how­ever, excel as a sprinter. As kids one of the brothers would fool the other to get a head start and take off running up a tor.

Dorothy being a pretty nurse in a hospital with a large influx of wartime young men, learned how to relate to them. Desmond by comparison was a complete yokel trying to relate to a woman. He had to work on his boy-girl dating talk. But he was quick to get a kiss, which earned him a slap. That's how girls back then handled guys who were too forward, or were out of line, or who simply got ahead of the game: Give them some­thing to remember them by. She wanted him to ask first. For his part, he'd thought she would enjoy the surprise, like catching his brother in a surprise sprint. Nowadays, some universities have instituted actual policies where a girl and guy have to verbally assent to every physical move in advance. Feminism gone crazy. In the darkened movie theater of Desmond's & Dorothy's date, couples were vigorously making out, but with­out disturbing their neighbors with any talking. When Sonia Soto­mayor was appointed to the Supreme Court, we thought of that as good for diversity and forgave her the pride in her statement about a wise Latina woman perhaps reaching a better conclusion, for her wealth of experience, than would a white male lacking that experience. Her prior judicial experience, though, included the ruling that WEB users must agree to ‘terms of use’ in full, which nobody but nobody ever reads. Likewise, couples, all couples, are way more spontaneous than talking over every little move first.

A flashback shows Tom the father (Hugo Weaving)—who was a drunk and an emotionally disturbed WWI vet—brandishing a pistol at his wife. We credit young Desmond for disarming him. When feminist Ann Aiken was a circuit court judge, she issued a restraining order on a man who had firmly held his wife by the arms during an argument. His wife didn't even say he hurt her, but Judge Aiken said she knows where that leads. I was talking to a fellow who got into trouble with the law because he'd restrained his girl­friend by the arms when she was trying to tear his (long) hair out. The girl bruised easily and his finger­prints were discovered on her arms. He had to take an eighteen hour anger management class. In it he was taught that if a woman was coming at him with a base­ball bat, he was not allowed to disarm her but should curl up into a ball and let her strike him. That bat could inflict similar damage as did Desmond to his brother with a brick in this movie; it could have killed him. We get to look at his swollen face. Grabbing her arms, could have, I suppose, resulted in some minor bruising similar to what might happen in this movie when Desmond helps pull up his date Dorothy onto the ridge they are hiking up. This movie on various levels reflects our more modern times as being bizarre.

Production Values

The war movie, “” (2016) was directed by Mel Gibson. The screenplay was written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan. It stars Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, and Teresa Palmer. Lead (British) actor Andrew Garfield anchored it with a fine performance. A well cast ensemble rounded it out. Newcomer Teresa Palmer did well as the main character's love interest.

MPAA rated it R for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images. The cinema­tog­raphy of Simon Duggan does the film justice, from the natural beauty of Appalachia to the cratered island of Okinawa. The pace is almost too quick. The battle imagery is pretty gory. The film ends with some real life footage of actual players.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

For a drama it touches all the right bases without lingering too long. For history it's abbreviated. For realism it's Hollywood. For action it's impressive. For the experience of war, it's still just a movie; we can eat popcorn comfortably in our seats with­out worrying about rats. All in all it was well done.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible quotations are from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Bible quotes marked New International Version or (NIV) are from: Holy Bible, New International Version™, NIV™. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. WEB, Print.

Limbaugh, Rush. The Way Things Ought To Be. New York: Pocket Books, 1992. Print.

Sandy Posey, “Born a Woman.” 1966. WEB.