Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

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cantinflas
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Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#1 Post by cantinflas » Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:53 am



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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#3 Post by Roscoe » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:35 pm

I'll be too busy causing all the wars in the world to see it.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#4 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:33 pm

Roscoe wrote:I'll be too busy causing all the wars in the world to see it.
I emerged from months of lurking just to offer you all of the high-fives.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#5 Post by Big Ben » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:35 pm

I'm willing to give it a shot so you all don't have to.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#6 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:56 pm

My problem with this isn't Gibson per se, but Andrew Garfield who's southern accent veers a little into Simple Jack territory.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#7 Post by davoarid » Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:37 pm

I guess I was the only one here who thought this was a masterpiece? Sure, it's as subtle as a brick to the face, but how the hell can you tackle these themes any other way? The war scenes are frighteningly intense, opting for the big-r Romantic style in place of realism (Gibson's much-derided love of slow-motion is actually pretty perfect here, ratcheting up the intensity and the terror by giving it all a nightmare quality).

Also includes one of the most innovative depictions of Ascension I've seen in a long while.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#8 Post by Brian C » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:50 pm

I didn't care much for this. Frankly, while it's a good story, it's not a good story in a cinematic sort of way - it's a story that literally can be told in a couple of minutes (and amusingly enough, the end credits feature video of the real-life figures, who basically do recap the whole story in a couple of minutes).

So there's a lot of movie to fill in here, and Gibson's solution is simply to ratchet up the violence to kill time, and as a result, the story of the pacifist ends up with the horrors and brutality of war being used as empty filler. His story is overwhelmed, if not dismissed outright. One might reasonably suspect that Gibson shares the point of view of Doss's tormentors in the early sections of the movie, which would at least be an interesting and subversive angle to take with the film, but yet the character ultimately ends up receiving the appropriate hagiographic treatment anyway.

In the end, Gibson simply feels disengaged from the material. It's utterly superficial in both its treatment of Doss's pacifism and its depictions of war violence, and that struck me as a pretty unappealing combination.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#9 Post by tenia » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:28 am

My biggest issues were that with its first 30 minutes which are the most basic exposition as seen in countless other war movies, the very mechanical narrative structure (a new "chapter" every 30 minutes), and the fact that the movie doesn't care a lot about its actual specificity (a guy who doesn't want to touch a gun goes to war), it felt a much more generic movie than what it should have been.

For most of it, actually, it's just the most basic war movie : exposition in the countryside, hard times at the military camp, discovering the hell of the battle front... It's only at the very end that the movie seems to be remember "ah yeah, crap, I forgot my main character has something special".

Clocking at 2h15, it thus seemed like the movie simply didn't have so much to say and felt pretty much overlong.

I'm also not sure I share the general feedback about it being that Gibson really knows its way in terms of visuals, because it often looked cheaply digital (especially during its last third).

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#10 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:51 pm

Have to agree with a lot of the assessments above about the "generic" nature of this film, particularly the earlier sequences, and it definitely feels like Gibson playing it extra safe... until we get to the battlefield. In Oscar terms, I understand the Best Director nomination far more than I do the Best Picture nomination - the war sequences are totally stunning, played without an ounce of humor or cool detachment from the reality of the horror taking place for both US and Japanese troops on the ground. Considering the shoestring (for a film of its scale) budget it was made for, I'm amazed by some of the things that Gibson was able to pull off here and how real he was able to make it feel. Yes, the early parts of the movie really paint by numbers, and it might have been better served from some serious work on the screenplay (including perhaps inter-cutting the early story of Doss' fight to be able to go to war with the actual war footage to balance the whole thing out - would love to see one of those Soderbergh re-edits of this), but Gibson's eye behind the camera is the strongest link in this chain, and it's a pretty good film overall.

I realize it's all make believe, but Andrew Garfield has really been putting himself through the wringer lately! If DiCaprio had been in these two most recent roles, the fanaticism would be out of control, but Garfield has a long way to go before anyone is pegging him as being due for awards recognition. Silence and Hacksaw Ridge are certainly convincing ways of speeding up that process.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#11 Post by Ribs » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:55 pm

I think it deserves the BP nomination by virtue of being an award for a producer - it's a fantastically produced film that stretches its budget so far and really does come together fantastically for the second hour. The direction plays a part here too, of course, but I came away very pleasantly surprised by the whole thing as I think you were and wishing the film well on its quest for likely 0 Oscars in a few weeks.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#12 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:02 pm

Mel Gibson had a good year last year - I've become the annoying friend who recommends a VOD genre movie to anyone I know thanks to him (really though, Blood Father is even better than Green Room as 2016 grindhouse pictures go and no one's seen it), and Hacksaw Ridge is better than it has any right to be. I wouldn't begrudge anyone their reservations or outright refusal to embrace him back into their entertainment orbit, but his work was a staple of my childhood (particularly because he was a favorite actor of my parents') and I'm very glad he's sober and back on a good path. Even if he's shown very little contrition.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#13 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:49 pm

Retrospectively though, I more and more think Hacksaw Ridge actually only works during the half-hour when it's focusing on his main subject (Doss, the guy who saved 75 soldiers without firing a shot).

The first part is a War Film 101 fest, with all its "paradise-to-hell" structure and then the Full Metal Jacket training camp.

And then, its second half doesn't care one bit about trying not to caracterise in an extremely simplistic way the enemies. For what is sold (and discussed about by its team) as an anti-war movie, it actually mimics... John Rambo's end massacre, which is all but anti-war but rather a blood-and-guts sequence with no other purpose than showing off dozens of gruesome deaths and flying limbs. But Hacksaw Ridge does this not only as an supposedly anti-war movie (but a pretty unfair to the enemy one) but also as a "see, it's extremely accurate !" one thanks to its paraphrasing talking-head bookending interviews. They're not only vastly redundant ("there was this one soldier who though he turned blind - but he didn't !"... as just pictured 30 minutes ago in the movie), but they're also way too specific for their own good, focusing on details and forgetting the overall tone that the movie adapted (Doss didn't volunteer but was drafted, it wasn't his first battle but his third, etc etc), but they're also trying to sell us a level of realism that the movie simply doesn't have.

So yeah, it's well shot though some shots are awfully cheaply digital looking, but all the rest ? It seems actually much less successful than it seems to think it is.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#14 Post by Ribs » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:56 pm

The ending text was just plain weird for this movie - I just assumed the person it was describing other than Doss was Vince Vaughn's character, but it was actually describing Sam Worthington's fate? Who cares?

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#15 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:01 pm

tenia wrote:Retrospectively though, I more and more think Hacksaw Ridge actually only works during the half-hour when it's focusing on his main subject (Doss, the guy who saved 75 soldiers without firing a shot).

The first part is a War Film 101 fest, with all its "paradise-to-hell" structure and then the Full Metal Jacket training camp.

And then, its second half doesn't care one bit about trying not to caracterise in an extremely simplistic way the enemies. For what is sold (and discussed about by its team) as an anti-war movie, it actually mimics... John Rambo's end massacre, which is all but anti-war but rather a blood-and-guts sequence with no other purpose than showing off dozens of gruesome deaths and flying limbs. But Hacksaw Ridge does this not only as an supposedly anti-war movie (but a pretty unfair to the enemy one) but also as a "see, it's extremely accurate !" one thanks to its paraphrasing talking-head bookending interviews. They're not only vastly redundant ("there was this one soldier who though he turned blind - but he didn't !"... as just pictured 30 minutes ago in the movie), but they're also way too specific for their own good, focusing on details and forgetting the overall tone that the movie adapted (Doss didn't volunteer but was drafted, it wasn't his first battle but his third, etc etc), but they're also trying to sell us a level of realism that the movie simply doesn't have.

So yeah, it's well shot though some shots are awfully cheaply digital looking, but all the rest ? It seems actually much less successful than it seems to think it is.
I can't argue too much with any of that, outside of saying that I'd much rather see a film about war depict it without too many notes of the two sides assisting or empathizing with one another in a hackneyed way. I'm not sure that we know the US troops that Doss is fighting alongside much better than we know the Japanese troops - there is a battlefield camaraderie that we're engulfed in since we're following a US soldier and not a Japanese one, but it feels more authentic to me to depict a battle as a battle and not as some kind of reluctant encounter between two sides who wish they could just go out for a pint together. I don't think that invalidates the film's anti-war messaging - soldiers are shown as traumatized, horrified, gaunt - there is very little if any yee-haw! jingoism outside of that coming from characters at higher ranks within the film attempting to stir their troops, which is to be expected.

And it's a little bit unfair to say that Doss was drafted - he was, but he was offered a deferment because he was employed at a shipyard. It was his decision to enlist despite this offer.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#16 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:25 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:I'm not sure that we know the US troops that Doss is fighting alongside much better than we know the Japanese troops - there is a battlefield camaraderie that we're engulfed in since we're following a US soldier and not a Japanese one, but it feels more authentic to me to depict a battle as a battle and not as some kind of reluctant encounter between two sides who wish they could just go out for a pint together.
There is an article on Birth Movies Death which sums up very well my issue regarding this. It's not a question of depicting a battle as a battle as you write (though there is much to say about the current trend to push up the hellish atmosphere to 11 as if there can't be too much of it), but a real difference of treatment.

I'll just quote the article since it's basically doing the writing for me :
Instead of watching maggots nibble corpses or listening to men scream as their limbs are blown off, we see the American troops machine-gunning and grenading the shit out of the Japanese, and they don’t suffer in the same way that the Americans do. We see their corpses fall to the ground as Doss bats grenades back at them, but their deaths are inconsequential compared to the memorably gruesome fates of “our” boys. All that savagery, Hacksaw intimates, is merely what they do to us.

The Japanese themselves are demonised by this movie in ways that genuinely feel torn from a WWII recruitment film. Before we even see them, they’re described as “animals” who make a point of killing medics; referred to with a host of (admittedly historically accurate) racial slurs. In person, they’re grotesque, screaming maniacs eager to kill themselves in order to take one more American life, bayoneting soldiers left and right. Gibson fetishises the “otherness” of the Japanese commanders, his camera leering over their ritual suicide. It’s kind of amazing to see in a film released in the Year of Our Lord 2016.
There are parts in the article which seems far fetched to me, but this is spot on part of the tonal issue I have with the movie. Despite its very specific matter and the possibility to do something way more original than your basic dumb war porn movie, the movie stumbles into this generic aspect with all its weight.

It's needing a more general consistent tone and casually throwing traumatized soldiers isn't enough. It actually probably makes it worse, because it's disjointing what it's wanting to do and what it actually delivers. Again : tonal issues.
mfunk9786 wrote:And it's a little bit unfair to say that Doss was drafted - he was, but he was offered a deferment because he was employed at a shipyard. It was his decision to enlist despite this offer.
You're right, but I think it already makes a big difference in Doss' spontaneous willingness to participate to the war effort.

This relates, as a whole, to my issue with the realistic take of the movie : it seems to make great efforts to be very accurate on specific elements (and remind it to us in an extremely showing-off manner) but doesn't seem to care about adapting the History (capital H) to turn it into a very isolated element. It's turning everything it can from general to personal, and in the present case, I'm not sure it's a good choice.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#17 Post by vidussoni » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:49 pm

The Japanese themselves are demonised by this movie in ways that genuinely feel torn from a WWII recruitment film. Before we even see them, they’re described as “animals” who make a point of killing medics; referred to with a host of (admittedly historically accurate) racial slurs. In person, they’re grotesque, screaming maniacs eager to kill themselves in order to take one more American life, bayoneting soldiers left and right. Gibson fetishises the “otherness” of the Japanese commanders, his camera leering over their ritual suicide. It’s kind of amazing to see in a film released in the Year of Our Lord 2016.
My God, the guy that wrote this is a such an asshole. They did make a point of killing medics. They were screaming maniacs eager to kill themselves. Kamikazes, anyone? Imperial Japan was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians. They demonized themselves.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#18 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:07 pm

vidussoni wrote:
The Japanese themselves are demonised by this movie in ways that genuinely feel torn from a WWII recruitment film. Before we even see them, they’re described as “animals” who make a point of killing medics; referred to with a host of (admittedly historically accurate) racial slurs. In person, they’re grotesque, screaming maniacs eager to kill themselves in order to take one more American life, bayoneting soldiers left and right. Gibson fetishises the “otherness” of the Japanese commanders, his camera leering over their ritual suicide. It’s kind of amazing to see in a film released in the Year of Our Lord 2016.
My God, the guy that wrote this is a such an asshole. They did make a point of killing medics. They were screaming maniacs eager to kill themselves. Kamikazes, anyone? Imperial Japan was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians. They demonized themselves.
Jesus...

Ok, before this gets out of hand: the problem with stereotypes is not that they contain no truth; it's that they're applied universally and indiscriminately, with no attempt to differentiate among the individuals in a group. While the imperial Japanese army might have had a significantly different attitude to suicide than in any of the allied (or the rest of the axis) armies, that does not mean this attitude was held by everyone in the army to the same extent. See, for instance, Letters from Iwo Jima, which did an excellent job handling this issue.

Let's have no more of this nonsense.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#19 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:19 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:See, for instance, Letters from Iwo Jima, which did an excellent job handling this issue.
Which is why I much prefered Iwo Jima to Flags of our Fathers.

As for Hacksaw Ridge, this issue isn't so much an overall stereotypes over the Japanese soldiers but that this seems done in the usual purpose to make us root with the US troops. Why should we root for anybody in a anti-war movie ? Why are we seeing non-descript mean bad Japanese soldiers getting grenaded and flamed like in Black Hawk Down but every single US severed limb is shown frontally on-screen ?

This difference of treatment felt problematic to me.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#20 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:37 pm

Why must one have any kind of rooting interest during these scenes? This isn't the first war film I've heard this argument about where I wasn't rooting for either side, just observing. And especially with the tone of Hacksaw Ridge, that feels a little misplaced - if anything, I was just rooting for Doss to be able to get out of his situation alive with as many wounded as he could muster. I can't say there was much "I hope they win this battle" from my perspective so much as "I hope Doss gets out of this situation alive" - even though the outcome of both has been well documented.

Yes, there are overly flag-waving and nationalistic war films, I'm just not entirely sure this is one of them, or that it wouldn't have felt totally out of place to give equal time to the Japanese in a movie that's about one US soldier's unusual bravery.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#21 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:49 pm

tenia wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:See, for instance, Letters from Iwo Jima, which did an excellent job handling this issue.
Which is why I much preferred Iwo Jima to Flags of our Fathers.

As for Hacksaw Ridge, this issue isn't so much an overall stereotypes over the Japanese soldiers but that this seems done in the usual purpose to make us root with the US troops. Why should we root for anybody in a anti-war movie ? Why are we seeing non-descript mean bad Japanese soldiers getting grenaded and flamed like in Black Hawk Down but every single US severed limb is shown frontally on-screen ?

This difference of treatment felt problematic to me.
This is the old problem of how to represent the subjective battle experience of one side. Doing this well more or less ineluctably results in flattening the enemy to, at best, a series of impressions for the heroes react to, and, at worst, racist caricatures without visible humanity.

Worth noting: this is not, by nature, less true of war films where both sides are the same race or culture. So there only seems a problem when the flattened group is one already liable to caricature within the culture of the non-flattened side. If it's ok to demonize the flattened side (eg. Nazis), no one finds it a problem.

So within this problem, Black Hawk Down is on the back foot from the start because Muslims and non-whites already struggle against flattening (and worse) in the American media. But as far as this flattening goes, the movie makes it no more offensive than the concept demands. It's on the less problematic side of this problem. The question now is: where does Hacksaw Ridge fall in this continuum: does it stick only to the limits of the concept, or does it go further?

Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima aren't really about subjective battle experience (they're about how individuals react to the ideas surrounding war that are held by their respective cultures), but if they were, they'd solve the problem completely by being complements that cannot be understood without the other. Both armies are flattened and are given depth, with the filmmakers using those differing representations to build a larger understanding of how armies conceive of and experience each other.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#22 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:58 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:The question now is: where does Hacksaw Ridge fall in this continuum: does it stick only to the limits of the concept, or does it go further?
I would posit that because this is a film about an exceptional person who enlists in a war rather than about a war itself, that it rarely veering away from being something of a narrowly focused character study shouldn't necessarily be looked at as the opposite of a film that is about two three-dimensional armies of fully developed characters. Doss is the only person we know all that much about in this film. I would understand tenia and Birth Movies Death [still can't get over what a turd of a website name that is]'s argument much more if we were getting Orange is the New Black-esque flashbacks or dialogue exposition about a dozen of Doss' fellow soldiers and nothing on the side of the Japanese, but that isn't the aim of Hacksaw Ridge at all.

In fact, I'd say some of the time we do spend with the Japanese army (the fake surrender, the seppuku) felt out of place and excessive, if only because so much of the viewer's time is spent seeing this conflict through Doss' eyes, and those diversions feel shoehorned in.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#23 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:13 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:Yes, there are overly flag-waving and nationalistic war films, I'm just not entirely sure this is one of them, or that it wouldn't have felt totally out of place to give equal time to the Japanese in a movie that's about one US soldier's unusual bravery.
I don't think it's so overly flag-waving, but I definitely think (while you and Mr Sausage are also making some very good general points about objective representations in war movies) it could have handled it better.

And I also think that it's indulging too much in its battle sequence in a way that emphasises this superficial approach. While I also was more of an observant on this part rather than rooting for anyone, the difference in treatment between the 2 sides clearly reminded how US-centric this is again, which is understandable from a pure "main story" POV (Doss IS a US soldier) but not in how this main story serves a more general anti-war vibe.

It might be me feeling this individual is used by the movie to open up on a wider anti-war vibe that actually isn't there, I don't know. But if it IS there indeed (the critical coverage of the movie and the various ITWs I read about the movie seem to suggest it is), I think it fails to deliver.

In the end, this end battle still is about a bunch of Good Ol' Yankees who managed to overcome their prejudices against Doss and are now sticking with each other to kill a bunch of faceless mean and ruthless Japanese soldiers.
Mr Sausage wrote:So within this problem, Black Hawk Down is on the back foot from the start because muslims and non-whites already struggle against flattening (and worse) in the American media.
I think the representation issue with Black Hawk Down go already outside any race prejudice. It's a movie that boasts at the end a text panel stating something like a 220 enemies body count, but they're all absolutely totally non-descript. It's almost a "parody turned true" taken from Hot Shots! 2.



Still, while we probably won't convince each other, it's a very interesting discussion to have. Maybe I'm simply giving to a movie an aim it actually doesn't have in the first place.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#24 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:16 pm

Black Hawk Down is probably the worst war film when it comes to the treatment of the fact that there are actual other human beings on the other side of a military conflict that I've ever seen (I remember posting on a forum around the time it came out and the thread title for it was "Let's make a movie about killing black people and call it Black Hawk Down") so mentioning it in the same breath as Hacksaw Ridge feels particularly startling, if only because I feel the contrast is so stark between the two.

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Re: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

#25 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:24 pm

mfunk wrote:I'd posit that because this is a film about an exceptional person who enlists in a war rather than about a war itself, that it rarely veering away from being something of a narrowly focused character study shouldn't necessarily be looked at as the opposite of a film that is about two three-dimensional armies of fully developed characters. Doss is the only person we know all that much about in this film. I would understand tenia and Birth Movies Death [still can't get over what a turd of a website name that is]'s argument much more if we were getting Orange is the New Black-esque flashbacks or dialogue exposition about a dozen of Doss' fellow soldiers and nothing on the side of the Japanese, but that isn't the aim of Hacksaw Ridge at all.

In fact, I'd say some of the time we do spend with the Japanese army (the fake surrender, the seppuku) felt out of place and excessive, if only because so much of the viewer's time is spent seeing this conflict through Doss' eyes, and those diversions feel shoehorned in.
I haven't seen Hacksaw Ridge, so I can't say where the movie actually falls. But I think I can talk about how you'd go about determining it.

The film can't (and probably doesn't) avoid the problem by focusing only on Doss. If anything, it would have a greater share of the problem since the focus is so strict. Because Doss is on a side, there is no way for him to experience both sides in any egalitarian way: he is committed to helping one side, while the other side is committed to hurting him. So he has to experience one side with care and concern, and the other with fear. It's unavoidable.

So now the question is, to represent that subjective state of fear in battle, does the film emphasize the suffering of the American side to generate horror, and exaggerate the ferocity while deemphasizing the suffering of the Japanese side in order to generate terror? And the corollary to the second part is: does the film use (deliberately or accidentally) unpleasant racial stereotypes in order to exaggerate the ferocity of the Japanese and induce a terror of them in the audience analogous to Doss' terror.

I can't answer that question. I can probably answer the question of the seppuku scene, tho'. If you want to know the filmmaker's motivations behind that, use Gibson's career as a context: he made the purest expression of torture-worship in the history of film.

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