Mel Gibson on 'Brutal' Violence in Hacksaw Ridge with Andrew Garfield

Mel Gibson from Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson from Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson on Violence in Hacksaw Ridge with Andrew Garfield

Mel Gibson has proven himself a master of cinematic violence, be it the battle scenes in “Braveheart” or the final hours of Jesus in “The Last Temptation of Christ.” The director again spares no blood or gore in his new film, “Hacksaw Ridge,” about a medic who saved dozens of lives at the Battle of Okinawa.

But this time there’s a twist. The fact that this medic, played by Andrew Garfield, is a pacifist who refuses to take lives even when his own is at risk, sets the stage for a more startling and realistic look at the horrors of war, though Gibson says that in real-life the World War II fighting may have been worse.

“Visually I wanted to give the audience a feeling of what it must have been like to be in the midst of something like that,” he tells Made in Hollywood reporter Julie Harkness Arnold. “It would have been brutal. Maybe I didn’t make it as brutal as it was. I don’t know.”

Mel Gibson on Heroism and Sacrifice in Hacksaw Ridge

In the end, Gibson says, it’s the contrast between the medic Desmond Doss’s Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and the violence that confronts him that underscores the extent of his heroism. In real life, Doss would become the first conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“He believed in something greater than himself, and he was willing to sacrifice his own life for his brothers, and this is the greatest act of love anyone can do,” says Gibson. “In the midst of hell, where most men are becoming animals, he was honing this aspect of himself and doing glorious things, and saving lives. He was life-affirming in the midst of death. It’s kind of a cool story.”