Mel Gibson guns for Oscar Best Director prize with ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

With films that span from the classic, Oscar Best Picture-winning Braveheart to The Patriot, We Were Soldiers, The Passion of the Christ and his most recently directed film, the Mayan civilization epic Apocalypto, Mel Gibson has become known for meshing big themes with atmospheric style that takes audiences into revealing worlds.

Now, Mel Gibson’s re-creates with a mesmerizing realism the epic combat that saw the true-to-life heroism of Desmond Doss in the World War II action-thriller, Hacksaw Ridge.

Nominated for eight Oscar Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, Hacksaw Ridge centers on the story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), a Seventh-day Adventist who became an army medic while adhering to his religious convictions of not carrying a weapon. He saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.

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For producer Bill Mechanic, Gibson was always the ultimate choice to direct Hacksaw Ridge. “The script felt to me almost like a companion piece to Braveheart,” comments the producer. “It pulls together the same themes of faith, violence and war, though it’s a very different story about a man from a very different time and background. To me, what also sets Mel apart as a contemporary filmmaker is how experiential his filmmaking is, how visceral the storytelling is in his films. He’s become a consummate director. He’s equally great with characters, with actors, with the camera and the editing process and with giving audiences a new experience.”

Gibson saw in Hacksaw Ridge a chance to bring into the light a forgotten hero – and he was drawn to Desmond Doss as man who determined to find a way to live by the values that meant everything to him, even when they seemed in conflict with the whole world around him.

Says Gibson: “Desmond Doss abhorred violence, it was against his principles, his religious beliefs, but he wanted to serve his country in World War II as a medic. How does somebody go into the worst place on earth without a weapon? It was all the more compelling to me, because it was a true story, and I thought I could bring my visual language to it.”

Gibson notes that Doss never called himself a conscientious objector. That was the army’s term. Instead, he called himself a “conscientious co-operator,” believing with unflagging tenacity that he had plenty to contribute without having to kill other human beings.

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“He was a co-operator in the sense that he passionately wanted to join the war effort, but he wanted to enter it as someone aiming not to take life but to save it,” says Gibson. “Still, you have to ask, what kind of madman goes into that kind of a conflagration seen on Okinawa without being armed? Doss defied what anyone could have expected from that situation. Somebody mentioned to me that the Congressional Medal of Honour is usually given to people who have a singular moment where they make a snap decision and do one heroic thing. One of the things that stood out to me about Desmond is that in Okinawa, this guy was heroic 24/7, for a whole month. He took heroism to another level not often seen.”

Mechanic notes that when it came to the battle sequences, Gibson zeroed right in on the most essential and creative details. “Mel has such an eye for war action, I feel he was the real creator of all the battle sequences, regardless of who wrote the scenes,” says the producer.

Yet even in the most frenetic action, Gibson wanted the humanity of the character to hold sway. He says of the battle sequences: “The important part was to give you the sense that this is the worst place anyone has ever seen, which it was for these men. And here’s Desmond, this guy you’ve hopefully come to know and to love, thrown into this terrible place where he will finally see how measures up to the standards he has set for himself.”

Hacksaw Ridge opens February 22, 2017 in Philippine cinemas.

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Andrew Garfield vies for Best Actor Oscar with ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

British actor Andrew Garfield earns his first Academy Award nomination by playing real-life hero, Desmond Doss, in director Mel Gibson’s World War II epic, Hacksaw Ridge.

Nominated for eight Oscar Awards including Best Picture, Hacksaw Ridge centers on the story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), a Seventh-day Adventist who became an army medic while adhering to his religious convictions of not carrying a weapon. He saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.

Producer Bill Mechanic explains: “It was 14 years for me making the film, so I looked at many actors over that time to play Desmond Doss. He’s a difficult character to portray because he’s so inward, he’s not going to explain himself a lot of times in the movie, so it had to be somebody who could inhabit his persona so fully that you could see who he was.”

Mechanic knew that physicality was not the heart of the role, although it would take the lead actor into searing action. “Even if he was a Superman with a body built like The Rock, you still wouldn’t believe that a person still could do what Desmond did,” the producer muses. “It would take something else to believe in Desmond and that’s what Andrew Garfield brought.”

Garfield who is known for his roles as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, immediately jumped at the role.

“There wasn’t any hesitation when I read the script” says Garfield. “I think it’s rare in this world to have someone like Desmond, who is so tuned into themselves, so tuned into what that still, small voice inside is saying, that no matter what is thrown at them, they know what they can do, and what they will not do.”

Doss’s rare respect for the enemy and the sanctity of all human life also awed Garfield, who says it gave him pause. “Desmond treated the enemy with as much care as he would treat his fellow Americans. That’s hard to wrap your mind around, but I wanted to try to understand it more, and to learn from his perspective on life and on the world — this beautiful perspective he had that we’re all one. Even though I believe this is a story that transcends any specific religion, it’s a very spiritual story,” says Garfield.

Despite the fact that Doss is now deceased, Garfield says he felt a heavy responsibility to honor his life and achievements. He spent three months prior to production devoted solely to exploring Doss and his surroundings in depth.

“The preparation was extensive,” Garfield comments. “I visited Desmond’s hometown, the place where he retired, the home he grew up in and the home where he passed away. I walked the walks that he walked. I read all the books about him, absorbing as much as I possibly could. But that was just scratching the surface, really. One of the joys of doing a story like this is attempting to dive into someone else’s being, the time in which they were alive, which is endlessly fascinating. You get to be an historian and a researcher.

Mel Gibson was gratified to see Garfield cut to the heart of the character he so wanted audiences to get to know. “Andrew is an amazing actor. He’s not your typical looking action hero but he has those qualities inside him,” Gibson observes. “He’s a guy who, like Desmond Doss, has real convictions and so he was able to portray Desmond in a real and moving way. The film is so focused on his character, he really had to be our quarterback and he was.”

Garfield was equally exhilarated by the working rapport with Gibson. “Working with Mel as a director has been a real highlight of my time being an actor so far,” he says. “Mel tells a story in such a beautiful, compelling way. He’s a bit like Desmond Doss in that he’s got this real innocence and purity to him. With Mel, everything is on the surface, and you know exactly what he’s feeling at all times, even if he doesn’t want you to know he can’t help himself. He’s sincere and passionate, and it’s infectious.”

Hacksaw Ridge will open in Philippine cinemas on February 22, 2017.

Mel Gibson’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ earns six Oscar nominations including Best Picture

Hacksaw Ridge, a true story of a World War II hero – Desmond Doss, a “non-combatant” medic who singlehandedly saved the lives of 75 fellow comrades, has earned its rank with a total of six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (Andrew Garfield), Best Director (Mel Gibson), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Hacksaw Ridge is cemented as the comeback film for Mel Gibson, whose last Oscar nomination was for Braveheart back in 1996. This is also the first ever Oscar nomination for Andrew Garfield. One of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year, Hacksaw Ridge is a strong contender at the awards season, and was also nominated at the Golden Globe Award, Critics’ Choice Award and Screen Actors Guild Award.

The film follows an unwavering soldier who voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army but refused to carry weaponry and firearms to defend himself. His unit was ordered to take part in the near-impossible capture of the massive Maeda Escarpment – aka Hacksaw Ridge. Atop this steep, looming 400-foot cliff lay heavily fortified machine-gun nests, booby traps and Japanese soldiers in caves who vowed to fight to the end. It was there that Doss demonstrated that he was made not only of principle but also rare courage. Facing a desperate assault of heavy fire, Doss refused to seek cover. When his battalion was ordered to retreat, he alone remained behind and ran repeatedly into the kill zone, with nothing but his convictions, to drag to safety an estimated 75 badly injured men who were destined to die had he not intervened.

The 89th Academy Award will be presented on 26th February at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.

Hacksaw Ridge will be opening in Philippine cinemas on February 22, 2017.

Teresa Palmer plays Andrew Garfield’s wife in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

Teresa Palmer is becoming one of the most globally recognized actresses, bringing her talents to the US and worldwide from Adelaide, Australia. She has starred in many major films including box office hits Lights Out and Warm Bodies.

Now she stars as the wife of a pacifist soldier in Golden Globe Best Picture nominee Hacksaw Ridge, the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun.

Directed by Mel Gibson from a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight, Hacksaw Ridge also stars Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey and Sam Worthington.

One of the most beautiful and transformational moments in Desmond’s life comes on the cusp of war – when he bumps into the ravishing young nurse he is determined to charm and make his wife. Dorothy Schutte did indeed marry Desmond Doss, and became a beacon in his darkest moments at war.

Mel Gibson was excited to cast Australian actress Teresa Palmer in the role. “Teresa is so beautiful on camera and she brings a real warmth to this character that it needed. You almost see her as Desmond’s angel of mercy because Teresa puts that quality out there,” says the director.

Palmer felt an immediate connection to Dorothy. She explains: “I wanted to play Dorothy because she’s such a strong woman who knows what she wants yet she also has a tenderness and complexity to her. My grandmother and my grandfather both served in World War II — my grandfather was a fireman and my grandmother sent Morse code. I can remember them telling me stories about their romance during that time, and the script felt reminiscent of those tales that I grew up listening to.”

Palmer dove into research to play the role. “I really studied how women of the time spoke and walked, their elegance,” Palmer says. “I also thought a lot about my mother, her faith, and her gentler way of seeing the world, which reminded me of Dorothy.”

But Palmer equally wanted to get a sense of that head-spinning, first-love passion that unfolds between Dorothy and Desmond on the screen. “Dorothy so fiercely loves Desmond, and from the start, her belief in him is completely unwavering. I wanted to ensure that this love felt authentic and real and connected, because it is such a foundation for how they live.”

Andrew Garfield, who plays Desmond, found instant chemistry with Palmer as the two tried to capture what they had seen of the couple’s relationship. “There’s this amazing This is Your Life episode about Desmond where you see he and Dorothy interact together on stage,” Garfield explains. “They’re these very direct, no games, joyous, emotionally available people – and that’s what Teresa and I were excited about playing. Teresa is this unconditionally loving, nurturing force.”

Says Palmer in turn of Garfield: “Andrew lived and breathed Desmond Doss, he stayed in accent the entire time and he even held himself like Desmond the whole time. That put pressure on me, because he is so giving to his craft. I didn’t want to let him down and so I wanted to bring my all too.”

Producer Bill Mechanic concludes Palmer did just that: “We wanted someone the audience can see is able to inspire Desmond’s ongoing faith while he’s at war. Teresa plays Dorothy as a woman of her times yet whose beliefs are as strong as Desmond’s.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 22, 2017, Hacksaw Ridge will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ tells of real-life soldiers who saved lives unarmed

From the Oscar-winning director of Braveheart comes Hacksaw Ridge, the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss 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 evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Directed by Mel Gibson from a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight, Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey and Sam Worthington.

An unwavering Seventh Day Adventist, Desmond Doss was living in Virginia when he voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army. He had no interest in fighting, but rather Doss wanted to serve as a “non-combatant” medic. It was not a path with which the military was familiar, but Doss persisted. Skinny, vegetarian and unwilling to train on Saturdays let alone carry a gun, Doss was initially ridiculed and abused by his compatriots – who, convinced he would be a dangerous liability in the foxholes with them, tried every which way they could to drive him out of the army. But Doss persisted all the way to Okinawa, where his unit was ordered to take part in the near-impossible capture of the massive Maeda Escarpment – aka Hacksaw Ridge. Atop this steep, looming 400-foot cliff lay heavily fortified machine-gun nests, booby traps and Japanese soldiers in caves who vowed to fight to the end.

It was there that Doss demonstrated that he was made not only of principle but also rare courage. Facing a desperate assault of heavy fire, Doss refused to seek cover. When his battalion was ordered to retreat, he alone remained behind and ran repeatedly into the kill zone, with nothing but his convictions, to drag to safety an estimated 75 badly injured men who were destined to die had he not intervened.

Doss would go on to receive the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman in October of 1945, with a citation that drew attention to “outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions.” It was then that the journey to bring Doss’ story to the screen began. Those who heard what Doss had achieved and understood how unusual it was (there have since been only two other conscientious objectors awarded the Medal of Honor) immediately saw that that it was a potent and provocative story. But it would be another half century before it became a reality – in part because Doss chose to lead a quiet, humble life without the notoriety a film would bring.

But now with a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan and Australian writer Andrew Knight (The Water Diviner), as well as a highly accomplished team led by Academy Award® nominated director Mel Gibson, Doss’s unsung story would at last be told as only 21st Century filmmaking could. It would be not only a story of what men endured on Okinawa, but of the loved ones back home who shaped and bolstered Desmond Doss’ belief.

Producer Bill Mechanic, explains: “Desmond never wanted to sell his life rights, he didn’t want to popularize himself, feeling that that would be a contradiction to who he was. It wasn’t until late in his life that people convinced him that it was time to tell the story so that it would live on.”

Doss passed away at the age of 87 in March 2006. Several years before that, filmmaker Terry Benedict had received his blessing to begin producing a documentary about Doss, The Conscientious Objector, and secured the life rights to his story. Feeling the time was also right to explore bringing Doss’ story to motion picture audiences as a multi-layered drama, Benedict approached producer David Permut, who in turn approached Mechanic, who was thrilled to become involved.

Mechanic says: “I always saw this story as being about a man who has very strong beliefs — which are then tested in an absolute hell that he comes out of even stronger.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 22, 2017, Hacksaw Ridge will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

Mel Gibson’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ vies for Best Picture, Director, Actor at Golden Globes

Director Mel Gibson’s critically acclaimed war film, Hacksaw Ridge, is vying for three major categories at the Golden Globe Awards on January 10, 2017, including the much-coveted Best Motion Picture – Drama.

Its two other nominations are for Best Director – Motion Picture for Mel Gibson and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Andrew Garfield. The annual Golden Globe Awards is voted on by members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

Hacksaw Ridge centers on the story of Desmond T. Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist who became an army medic while adhering to his religious convictions of not carrying a weapon. He saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.

In his reaction to the nominations, Mel Gibson said “I’m very appreciative of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s overwhelming recognition of Hacksaw Ridge. This film was a labour of love for everyone involved, and is also about a man who truly exemplified love and goodness. It’s thrilling to see Andrew Garfield nominated since he is the beating heart of our film. I share any honour received for this film and for myself with every actor and every crew member that came to the set each day giving their all to honour the story of our brave veterans, and most especially Desmond Doss, a true hero.”

“I am so incredibly moved by the HFPA and their recognition of this film and my work, especially considering the remarkably strong caliber of performances this year,” said Garfield in a statement on his nomination. “It’s an honor to stand with actors like Denzel Washington who have inspired me since I was old enough to watch movies. I’m very proud of Hacksaw Ridge and I share this with Bill Mechanic, David Permut and Mel who led the charge on this project with great vision, humility, integrity and love. I dedicate this nomination and my work to the incomparable Desmond Doss and all those who sacrifice themselves in the service of the protection and freedom of others. He is a profound symbol of healing and compassion for the times we are in.”

Hacksaw Ridge is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss (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 evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Directed by Mel Gibson from a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight, Hacksaw Ridge is produced by David Permut, Bill Mechanic, Brian Oliver, William D. Johnson, Bruce Davey, Paul Currie, and Terry Benedict.

Opening across the Philippines on February 15, 2017, Hacksaw Ridge will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.