HACKSAW RIDGE was shot in various locations across New South Wales in 2015 and tells the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly rescued the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was injured by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour, which is the highest military honour in the US, awarded for personal acts of valour above and beyond the call of duty.
‘Conscience is but a word that cowards use’...or is it?
A true war story, a strong cast and Mel Gibson directing for the first time in ten years surely equals a great cinema experience. The truth is it does! I liked the look of this film before seeing it and I wasn’t disappointed.
From start to finish, Gibson (Apocalypto) expertly brings to life, through the acting of his players and the accurate writing of Knight (The Water Diviner) and Schenkkan (The quiet American), the true story of Army Medic Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield).
Garfield, Worthington, Weaving, Palmer (I am Number 4), Griffiths (Six Feet Under) and Vaughn deliver performances that turn this from a good, to a grab your coat we are going to the cinema kind of film. There is even a little cameo from Rake star Richard Roxborough.
The concept of Vaughn and Garfield in this genre is a risky one and conceivably only something that Gibson could pull off. Once I had rid my mind of the images of American soldiers throwing dodgeballs or using webbing to defeat the enemy, I could begin to appreciate Gibson’s direction fully and see that the final outcome is so much more than the sum of its parts.
What makes this war story so good is that it is not just about the shock and awe of war. It is a love story and a piece of work that also examines politically, the conscientious Objector. Oh yes and it’s true...
Gibson is back and I love it! Following his strong performance in Blood Father, this follow up movie does exactly what you expect and then some, so get yourself off to your local picturehouse, sit back and enjoy.
Releases: 3rd November 2016
Duration: 131 minutes
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn
Director: Mel Gibson (Braveheart, Passion of the Christ)
Desmond T. Doss only accepted one Medal of Honor. It had initially been proposed that he received two, but he humbly declined.
When asked how many lives he saved, he approximated 50. However individuals that witnessed the heroic event said it was closer to 100. The mutual agreement was reached at approximately 75.
Milo Gibson, son of Mel Gibson, has a small role as a soldier in the film. It's the first cinematic collaboration between the two and it marks Milo Gibson's screen debut.
James Horner was originally supposed to compose for Hacksaw Ridge due to the fact that he worked with Mel Gibson on three films previously. But due to Horner's death in a plane crash this year, John Debney, who composed for the Passion of the Christ, will compose for the film.
Corporal Doss was a member of the Army's 77th Infantry Division. Known as the "Liberty Division" for their distinctive insignia of a gold Statue of Liberty on a blue background, the 77th fought at Guam, Leyte (Philippines), and Okinawa. One of its units, Company C of the 306th Infantry Regiment, left the US in 1944 with 203 officers and men. By war's end in August 1945, just 13 of the original members were left. The 77th fought alongside the Marines, and a newspaper article during the war described how the division's soldiers fought so well at Guam that they earned the ultimate compliment: the Leathernecks nicknamed their Army counterparts the "77th Marine Division." Famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed by an enemy sniper while covering the 77th on Ie Shima, a small island off the west coast of Okinawa. The 77th was part of the Allied force that occupied Japan after hostilities ceased.
Stan Jensen from the Seventh-day Adventist Church took this story to screenwriter/producer Gregory Crosby in the late 1990s.
The film had a 14-year path from idea to production, according to an article by Variety.
Teresa Palmer worked on this movie in Melbourne while finalizing her work on Berlin Syndrome (2016) in the same city.
The trailer note states that Desmond Doss was the only soldier to serve in a front line capacity without carrying a weapon. In WWII, Korea, and Vietnam the military drafted several Seventh-day Adventist with the status of 1A-O. This meant that they were willing to serve just not carry a weapon in combat.
The film received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival in September 2016