‘Hacksaw Ridge’ – Directed by Mel Gibson – Is Being Compared To ‘American Sniper’

The film Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, is being compared to American Sniper directed by Clint Eastwood.

Some are interpreting Gibson’s film as an anti-war picture. It relates the story, starring Andrew Garfield, of a real life person, Desmond T. Doss, a deeply spiritual man of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which has a reputation for shunning violence. Doss joined the army after Pearl Harbour was bombed in 1941.

Astonishingly, he refused to carry a rifle and was mocked for his convictions.  As could be expected, as a conscientious objector, he served as an unarmed medic and participated in numerous battles including the bloody Okinawa siege in that last year of the war. Mr. Doss, who passed away ten years ago, was the first conscientious objector awarded the Medal of Honor for saving dozens of wounded men in Okinawa alone. He carried them one by one while under enemy fire and lowering them by rope down a ridge.

Speaking of the film, Bill Mechanic, one of the film’s producers, said the partly biographical story of Doss as a true hero among heroes was an inconsistency. They were not attempting to solve that contradiction in the story. Gibson said he did not deliberately seek to make a film with a message that changes based on who is viewing it.

Although some view Hacksaw Ridge as an anti-war movie, others see an appreciation of American military might. The split is similar to that experienced by American Sniper. The movie has extreme ferocity, religious themes, and whether moviegoers have forgiven Gibson for his shocking behavior ten years ago, nobody knows.

David Permut, another Hacksaw Ridge producer, said that it was important to all of them that the integrity of the story was maintained and Desmond Doss was very religious.  He added that he did not consider religion as a box-office drawback, The New York Times reported.

“This is a story about a man who stood by his principles all the time,” Permut said. “That suits everyone, no matter what side of an issue you take a stand on.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE