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Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Writer's Life 5/6 - Conscientious

Mel Gibson has proven himself a top notch filmmaker. He continued his successful directorial run with Hacksaw Ridge (2016), which I watched last night courtesy of Netflix. He has proven fearless in depicting matters of traditional faith, and does so again in this WWII epic. For the first hour or so the film goes the way of standard fare. It gradually won me over to the point of tears. It is the story of Desmond Doss, a 7th Day Adventist who enlisted in the Army despite being a conscientious objector. He wishes to serve as a medic, refuses to pick up a gun, and suffers verbal humiliation from officers and physical blows from some of his peers. He is nearly court-martialed for his refusal to learn how to shoot a rifle. Fortunately, he was not. He saved 75 men in the hell that was the Battle of Okinawa. The depiction of those heroics is what raises the film above most of the genre. The action is at once rousing and sad, as brave young men suffer the brutality of combat, a relentless enemy. Many make the ultimate sacrifice - thousands of miles from home. The violence is graphic. Anyone squeamish about such depiction should pass. The film received six Oscar nominations, winning two, for Sound and Editing. Andrew Garfield of Spiderman fame was nominated for his touching portrayal of the soft-spoken Doss. Gibson was nominated for his work at the helm. Hugo Weaving, the villain in the Matrix trilogy, is excellent as the alcoholic, WWI veteran, elder Doss, Teresa Palmer luminous as the fiance. Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington shine as the Sergeant and Captain. The film was modestly successful at the box office, bringing in $67 million on a budget of $40 million in the USA alone. It runs about 2:15. Others who should stay away are those who frown at people who take traditional faith seriously, and those who scoff at men willing to fight to eradicate evil. 203,000+ users at IMDb have rated Hacksaw Ridge, forging to a consensus of 8.2 of ten. I agree. I don't know if there was any embellishment of the story, and I don't care. It captures the essence of Doss' deeds. The combat takes place entirely on Okinawa, where Doss was wounded four times. He served in earlier arenas, winning the Bronze Star for his actions on Guam and in the Philippines. He also was awarded several other citations. Despite ill-health, 100% disability, he lived until 87, passing away in 2006. Two other conscientious objectors have won the Medal of Honor, both medics killed in action in Vietnam: Thomas W. Bennett and Joseph G. LaPointe Jr.. No one ever deserved to have his story told more than Desmond Doss. There are several books about him available at Amazon. Here's a picture of him:

Here is Bennett:

And here is LaPointe:

The floating book shop enjoyed double good luck today. It didn't rain and many books and CD's sold. My thanks to the kind folks who bought, swapped and donated wares. The Super of the building that shares the corner with the Chase bank brought forth another impressive cache of books, most of them large hardcovers on crime. Also among them were Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams and The Psychopathology of Every Day Life, and Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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