Mel Gibson has had his fair share of war movies to date, which would be a pretty good basis for him to know what makes a war movie tick, and what doesn’t. After all, his portfolio would include The Patriot which deals with the American Revolution, Gallipoli that is set in World War I, the famous Braveheart movie that made William Wallace a household name, as well as two movies about Vietnam and a rebellion in the previous Dutch colony, Indonesia. His latest effort, Hacksaw Ridge, is a movie that Mr. Gibson directs, and it is set during the era of World War II. What makes Hacksaw Ridge so interesting is the fact that it features the historical character of Desmond Doss who does not want to carry a gun while he is at the front lines, attributing it to his Seventh-Day Adventist values.
When Hacksaw Ridge premiered at the Venice Film Festival early last month, it picked up a standing ovation. Andrew Garfield, a face many would recognize as Spider-Man, would play the role of Doss. Doss happened to be a medic in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, where his bravery managed to preserve the lives of many other wounded. For his valiant efforts, Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor, making him the first conscientious objector to pick up that award.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Gibson had previously turned down the opportunity to direct Hacksaw Ridge -- not once, but twice. He said, “I did the same with the ‘Braveheart’ script. It’s always a gradual evolution for something to work its way into your system. You start getting pictures of what the sequences look like. It isn’t like they’re written down like, ‘The guy crawls over and picks up a half a guy’s body.’ You make that stuff up as you’re visualizing it.”
It seems that Mr. Gibson would like to see Hacksaw Ridge to be different from the other war films that he did in the past. In essence, the entire movie should be more visceral, and according to production designer Barry Robison, Mr. Gibson mentioned that “he wanted ‘the ugly intensity of war.’ ” This would mean not to rely on computer effects for too many parts of the movie, but rather, to come up with a battlefield scale model that certainly injected doses of realism.
Hacksaw Ridge was fully filmed in Australia, taking 59 days to complete the wrap without having to break the bank. Bulldozers and backhoes were used to transform what was a peaceful dairy pasture located near Sydney into the famous Okinawa battlefield.
Okinawa, being one of the bloodiest battlefields in the Pacific theater of World War II, would see the same kind of gore and intensity shown in Hacksaw Ridge. Mr. Gibson figured out that the kind of graphic violence shown is required in order to deliver the point to viewers that Doss went through a very torturous period in his life as he was on the front lines, using nothing but his faith to pull himself through the ordeal.
Will you be lining up to watch Hacksaw Ridge this November 3rd as it opens in cinemas nationwide?