Started at the release of Passion of the Christ (2004), Mel Gibson seems to have taking longer time to contemplate, reflect and reread morality papers, in a positive meaning. Pervading into Jesus Christ’ latest 12-hour human life the Passion and jumping to waning days of the Mayan civilization in Apocalypto (2006), Mel once again echoes himself as deep-thinking director with Hackshaw Ridge, released in Indonesia on Nov. 4.
Mel marks his return after a decade of vague by taking the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist and pacifist who served as a US Army combat medic during the World War II in Okinawa, Japan. Desmond, starred by Arsenal FC fan and Spiderman actor Andrew Garfield, managed to save 75 lives without ever lifting a weapon despite of pressure and rebuff from his commanders at the training camp.
Desmond simply doesn’t take the gun because the Holy Bible forbids him to do so, referring to the sixth God’s commandment: Thou shall not kill. Back in the childhood time, Desmond had almost killed his brother with a stone during a brotherhood fight. It was the moment that changes Desmond’s live, besides one when he set his drunken father at the gunpoint to take his mom out of an altercation. Further details on this may be considered as spoiler, so I stop here.
What has interested me personally is how Desmond interprets that sixth God’s commandment: Thou shall not kill.
Once, Desmond is grilled in high-tension conversation with his commander on how could someone who signed up for the war – refuses to lift the weapon up. “I don’t take someone else’s live,” Desmond said, meanwhile the commander tried to convince him that that sixth God’s order means, “do not commit murder.” A war is not murder, right?
Desmond made it not to lift a gun during the 138-minute movie, apart from his effort to use the riffle to take an injured soldier in tow for evacuation. Gloriously, he never put his finger into the trigger. He never shots.
The time I believe pacifist can keep his holy belief and inhibitions no matter what, the plot puts Desmond in a big dilemma ever. The US Army must launch an attack to Japan on Sabbath, the day Desmond refuses to go for war as the God has set it holy. It is fourth God’s commandment: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
The entire troops won’t go without Desmond, the savior for the abandoned and injured.
Talking about God’s commandments during the weird is strange, but how Desmond addresses the situation is even weirder. He decided to go for the combat and managed to take the Japan down on Sabbath.
Returning to his hometown, Desmond Doss was welcomed as hero of humanity and given the Medal of Honor for his efforts in saving dozens injured soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.
A question to contemplate: Breaking a God’s commandment doesn’t make Desmond a bad man. Then, what makes one? Using God’s commandment to hang a man? 🙂
Back in 2015, Pope Francis once said that going to church does not make you a good person, warning people against the dangers of so-called “subtle sin”.