Since The Passion of the Christ I have come to expect to be challenged by films directed by Mel Gibson. The first half of Hacksaw Ridge lulled me into a false sense of security. We see Desmond Doss tackling the challenges of a childhood with a drunk for a dad, growing into an upstanding member of the community and falling in love. It was hard not to get swept away in the romance of it but I knew war was coming.
And so the film turns on a sixpence. From the moment he signs up life will only get harder for Desmond. As his beliefs and convictions are tested, first in the training camp and then in the full frenzy of the battlefield.
You’ll need a strong stomach to withstand the horrors of war on show here. And this is the kind of challenge I was expecting. What I wasn’t expecting was to leave the cinema feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed. Struggling to balance a sense of fear of the savagery that humans can inflict on one another with a feeling of hope in humanity provided by the courage of one man and his ability to inspire belief in others. What I’m left with a day later is a string of questions about my own beliefs and my ability to hold strong to them no matter what is thrown at me.