Set for a November release, Hacksaw Ridge tells the amazing true story of US Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, a conscientious objector who claimed the USA’s most prestigious military award for gallantry, the Medal of Honor, for his service in America’s WWII Pacific Campaign. Doss served in the infamous battle of Okinawa and conducted his role without carrying or using a weapon at any time due to his religious opposition to taking a life.
The story addresses wartime attitudes towards conscientious objectors- Doss’s religious reasons for his status as a conscientious objector were initially passed off by many as cowardice. The harsh treatment he suffered at the hands of his own comrades, despite voluntarily signing up for the armed forces, is explored in the early stages of the film and sets the scene for his amazing feats of gallantry on Okinawa.
The glimpses gleaned from the trailer show polished action and an evocative story, albeit one that will likely toe a dangerous line between emotive drama and ‘cheesiness’. The brilliance of the story itself is apparent- telling it correctly, faithfully and respectfully could be a challenge though. Sceptics will quickly point to the director, Mel Gibson, whose 1995 film, Braveheart, has been repeatedly criticised for its historical inaccuracy in lieu of drama. Even more so with Hacksaw Ridge, historical inaccuracy has the potential to seem far more clumsy and disrespectful given its poignant source material.
It’s Mel Gibson’s 5th directorial outing and his past results have been hit and miss. The pick of the bunch though is 2006’s Apocalypto, a film with stand-out quality, unique settings and immense visual appeal. Gibson has shown he can make great films in Apocalypto, (and many would also cite Braveheart for its Oscars win,) and importantly he’s demonstrated a sharp visual focus. Early impressions of Hacksaw Ridge suggest it’s the latest benefactor of that focus and some of the trailers individual shots are immensely eye-catching.
All in all Hacksaw Ridge looks promising; what remains to be seen is whether it turns out as a clichéd, emotive Braveheart-esque romp or comes together as a film with a little more depth, giving Mel Gibson’s filmography something to truly follow Apocalypto. Stay tuned to Maverick Film for more on Hacksaw Ridge.
By George Storr