For my report, I am reviewing the historic accuracy of Hacksaw Ridge and comparing it to the actual life of military solider Desmond Doss. The movie Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, gives a very accurate representation of the life of Desmond Doss. This movie shows very true events that happened in Doss’s life that are only slightly exaggerated by the Hollywood film company Summit Entertainment. Some true events that happened during Doss’s life in WWII were not included in the movie because of them being so absurd that the audience might not believe it was real.
All together this movie shows accurate history from Desmond’s earlier life and war life. Hacksaw Ridge is story about Christian Pacifist Desmond Doss born February 7th, 1919. Doss does not believe in any sort of violence or killing because of events that happened to him as a child. When he was young, his dad was a depressed drunk from the hard time of the Great Depression going on in America. Because of this, he mainly stuck to his mother. His mom taught Doss to be kind to others and follow the Lord’s word. His mother recalls him always being kind and compassionate to others even as a child.
Doss had a brother and also a sister (sister was not shown in movie). His siblings recall stories of Doss helping others no matter what the situation. His sister describes a story of Doss helping someone on an highway accident 3 miles away from their home, “It was announced on the radio, we didn’t have TVs in those days, it was announced there was an accident on Route 29 and they needed some blood right away to save this woman’s life. He walked three miles to that hospital and walked three more miles back home after he gave blood. Two days later, a call came back over the radio, they need more blood.
There he goes again, walks the three miles, then walks three miles back,” (“Hacksaw Ridge vs the True Story of Desmond Doss” par. 5). This, like other situations and events, was not shown in the movie because of how much good Doss did and the director not being able fit all of it into the two and a half hour time frame. One day though, Doss noticed a painting on a wall in his house, “My dad bought this Ten Commandments and Lord’s Prayer illustrated on a nice frame, and I had looked at that picture of the Sixth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill.
There’s a picture that had Cain and he killed his brother Abel, and I wonder how in the world could a brother do such a thing? I’ve pictured Christ for savin’ life, I wanna be like Christ go savin’ life instead of takin’ life and that’s the reason I take up medicine,” (“Hacksaw Ridge vs the True Story of Desmond Doss” par. 2). This moment helped Doss expand his religious beliefs and strengthen them. He began after this reading Bible more frequently and respecting the Lord’s holy day on Saturday, the Sabbath day. One of the most defining moments in Doss’s life came in his teenage years.
Doss’s father and uncle were both drunk one night and started to argue. The argument then escalated to a point where Doss’s father pulled a gun out on Doss’s uncle. Doss’s mother broke up the fight and made Doss hide the gun while she called the police. Doss came back to see his father in the back of a police car being taken away. Doss believes that this situation would have ended deadly if his mother never stepped in, and so he vowed to never touch a gun again after that moment. The movie shows this scene with a slight twist.
In the movie Doss’s father threatens to shoot his mother instead of his uncle (who wasn’t even included in the movie). Doss then removes the gun from his father’s hand and makes his father realize what he is doing. Even though the scene is different in the movie, it still shows how Doss’s pacifism and hate for guns began. When Doss became old enough for the war he wanted to help and join. Even though he would not use a gun, he felt he could not just sit at home while others went to war for him. Before Doss decides to go to war and go to boot camp, he meets a girl named Dorothy Schuette who he eventually ends up marrying.
Dorothy in the movie is shown as a nurse. While this is somewhat true, Dorothy was not a nurse at this time in Doss’s life and only became a nurse after the war to help pay for family expenses. After Doss meets Dorothy he then goes to boot camp where he says he wants to become a medic because he does not use guns. Since Doss refused to use a gun, higher up officials tried to send Doss to a conscientious objectors camp. This is a camp for people who refuse to do military duty. This event happened in real life, but like in the movie, officials did not succeed on sending Doss to the conscientious camp.
While in bootcamp Doss had to suffer harassment from fellow soldiers picking on and abusing him for his beliefs. The soldiers thought Doss was a coward and was just putting on a show. The movie exaggerates these harassment scenes slightly by showing scenes of Doss being beat to a pulp from his comrades. Toward the end of boot camp Doss was threatened with being discharged for not using a weapon, As his officers grew less tolerant of his refusal to bear arms or work on Saturdays, they convened a meeting to discharge him on a Section 8 for mental instability.
Sergeant Howell, portrayed by Vince Vaughn in the movie, came to Desmond’s tent and told him to turn in his aid kits, that he was no longer a medic, (“Hacksaw Ridge vs the True Story of Desmond Doss” par. 14). Later because of this an officer by the name Capt. Cunningham tries to Court Martial Doss and have him arrested because of Doss’s refusal to pick up a gun. The movie adds much on to this situation. The movie shows Doss being put in a holding cell which forces him to miss his wedding. This however was not true because another officer tells Capt.
Cunningham to respect Doss’s refusal to pick up a gun because of the legal papers that said the Doss’s choice is legal. So Doss didn’t actually go to a holding cell and also did not miss his wedding because he was married by then (1942). The scenes were just added to add a more emotional effect to the movie like many other scenes that are slightly exaggerated. Soon After these altercations Doss and his squadmates were deployed to the island of Okinawa. On that Island lyed the cliffside of Hacksaw Ridge.
In the movie it does not really explain the motive of the U. S. attack there. The U. S. though wanted the cliffside during WWII to use it as a military air base to invade mainland Japan. This battle in the end turned out to be one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. The U. S. soldiers were forced to use cargo nets to scale the cliffside to fight the Japanese troops. The movie though leaves out that Doss, who is now a Private, actually helped set up these nets on the cliff. This was a very dangerous task because the U. S. troops only cover was the smoke of nearby artillery strikes.
Before the grand assault up the mountain, Doss and other medics were forced to remove their medic arm bands. This is because Japanese troops targeted medics thinking that it would demoralize neighboring troops knowing that no one is there to help them anymore. As the U. S. troops finally got up the cliff and the battle begun, there was heavy casualties on both sides of the battle. After hours of fighting American troops did retreat after heavy mortar, artillery and machine gun fire which left dozens of wounded men to face death or be captured by the Japanese.
Doss realized that he needed to stay up there if these men were going to live, “I had these men up there and I shouldn’t leave ’em,” said Desmond. “They were my buddies, some of the men had families, and they trust me. I didn’t feel like I should value my life above my buddy’s, so I decided to stay with them and take care of as many of them as I could. I didn’t know how I was gonna do it,” (“Hacksaw Ridge vs the True Story of Desmond Doss” par. 26). Like in the movie, Doss ends up using rope from the top of the cliffside to lower men down to the main ground.
Doss is one of the only few relatively uninjured soldiers left on the cliff side. Because of this lack of manpower, Doss is actually forced to lower the men one by one down the cliffside by himself and barely has enough rope to do it, as shown in the movie. While Doss is saving men in the movie, it adds scenes of how they think Doss stumbled upon wounded soldiers. Most of these scenes are made up and are there to add to the effect of the movie. After 12 hours, Doss is estimated to have saved over 75 fellow soldiers alone averaging one man every 10 minutes.
The next day after Doss returns the other troops and they find out about this great feat performed by the Private. Sadly, they couldn’t celebrate to long because the final assault was set to take place the next day, May 5th, 1945. Before this assault the movies shows the assault is put on hold because Doss has to pray because it is Saturday, Doss’s Sabbath day. This event as crazy as it sounds did actually occur, Given that Desmond was the only medic left in B Company, he agreed to go but requested that he first be given time to read his Bible.
The delay was approved up the chain of command and the assault was put on hold until Desmond finished his devotions. That day, the 307th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Infantry Division overtook Hacksaw Ridge for good, (“Hacksaw Ridge vs the True Story of Desmond Doss” par. 31). Doss in this battle in the movie is shown getting injured from a grenade explosion. While Doss did end up getting injured from grenade shrapnel, it did not occur during this battle. His injuries came weeks later on the night of May 21st, 1945, just a half mile past the escarpment on Okinawa.
There Doss fell victim to a grenade explosion which put shrapnel all in his leg. He also was shot in his arm from a Japanese sniper which fractured his whole left arm. The movie leaves off with Doss getting taken off the battlefield of the assault on May 5th and shows real photos, stories, and interviews of life after the war for Doss. Doss’s wounds left him 90% disabled which caused his wife Dorothy to become a nurse to help fund the family. He cashed in his pension from the military to by a farm where he had a son, Desmond Jr.. Doss was also awarded the Medal of Honor on October 12, 1945, When my time came, I went up,” said Doss of the ceremony.
“President Truman, he came out and he stepped over the line, he caught me by my hands, shook my hand like I was an old-time friend, somebody he had known all his life. He didn’t even give me a chance to get nervous,” (“Hacksaw Ridge vs the True Story of Desmond Doss” par. 29). In an interview with Doss as an old man long after the war, Doss summarizes his experiences in the battle and what it was like to receive one of the greatest awards a soldier can get from the President.
Doss explains that each time he got wounded soldier down the cliffside, he would pray to God out louad for one more person he can save. The movie Hacksaw ridge Provides audience with a good accurate two hour and thirty minute summary of Doss’s life. Its has some slight Hollywood exaggerated scenes. It also misses some key moments in Doss’s life. It even combines some events together to make them false like Doss getting injured in the final Hacksaw Ridge assault even though he wasn’t injured until weeks later. All in all the movie is more accurate than not and is not all false fiction about the soldier’s life.