Hacksaw Ridge,” a film about Desmond Doss’ extraordinary faith and service during World War II, is not a Seventh-day Adventist movie.
But it is likely to thrust Adventism into the spotlight worldwide.
Below are some talking points, presented in the form of Q&A, that may help church members be prepared for questions about Doss and the Adventist Church. Members may also choose to direct people to the helpful website WhoAreAdventists.org.
Q: What do we say if someone asks why the church is behind this movie or why it would promote it?
A: “Hacksaw Ridge” was not made by or for the Adventist Church. Desmond Doss approved the telling of his story provided his beliefs, the facts, his church were properly and accurately portrayed; and that the movie would honor God. The Desmond Doss Council was charged with protecting, preserving, and managing the story to God’s glory. The movie’s producers have coordinated script, plot lines, and portrayal with the Doss Council for accuracy and appropriateness.
Q: Why would Adventists watch the film?
Neither church leadership nor the Doss Council advocates church members to see the film. The church is neither promoting nor marketing the film. Church members will be asked questions about Doss, his beliefs, his church, prayer, faith, and the miraculous events leading to the award of the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor. “Hacksaw Ridge” will motivate those questions. It will be helpful for church members to understand the full context of how these most Christian of all moral ethics are portrayed in the film and how they honor and glorify God. The movie is expected to open avenues of conversation with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family like no other witnessing opportunity has in 100 years.
Q How violent is the film?
Very violent; it is not for the faint of heart. Some scenes, while true, may be so realistic as to be disturbing. The battle for the Maeda Escarpment in which Desmond Doss is a central participant visually describes the brutality sometimes in disturbing but accurate ways. This battle is considered by military historians to be the bloodiest of World War II. “Hacksaw Ridge” is a war movie and the first to document the battle on film. The action is all live action. Very little computer (CGI) animation was used.
Q: Does the film stay true to Doss’ character?
Q: Was the spiritual tone conveyed correctly?
Q: Does it portray Adventists in a good light?
Yes. While the film does not preach, teach, or moralize, viewers come away with the seed of thought set in their minds that Doss’ integrity, faith, and moral courage is synonymous with what Seventh-day Adventists believe and practice.
Q: How much nudity?
No female nudity. One barracks scene has one soldier exhibitionist (actually happened) goofing off, but there is no full nudity displayed.
Q: Why is Mel Gibson the director?
Mel Gibson was chosen by the film’s producer, Bill Mechanic, as the best director to accurately portray the story. His faith tradition was not a consideration.