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.

hacksaw-ridge-movie-mel-gibson-andrew-garfield

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.

hacksaw-ridge-andrew-garfield

“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.

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.