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Hacksaw Ridge
File:Hacksaw Ridge poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMel Gibson
Written by
  • Andrew Knight
  • Robert Schenkkan
Produced by
  • Terry Benedict
  • Paul Currie
  • Bruce Davey
  • William D. Johnson
  • Bill Mechanic
  • Brian Oliver
  • David Permut
CinematographySimon Duggan
Edited byJohn Gilbert
Music byRupert Gregson-Williams
Distributed by
  • Summit Entertainment
    (United States)
  • Icon Film Distribution
Release date
  • September 4, 2016 (2016-09-04) (Venice)
  • November 3, 2016 (2016-11-03) (Australia)
  • November 4, 2016 (2016-11-04) (United States)
Running time
139 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • Australia
Budget$40 million[2][3]
Box office$163.6 million[4]

Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 biographical war drama film about the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacificist combat medic who was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry or use a firearm or weapons of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty.

The film was directed by Mel Gibson and written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan, based on an earlier documentary about Doss, and stars Andrew Garfield as Doss, with Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Vince Vaughn in supporting roles. It was released in the United States on November 4, 2016, received positive reviews and has grossed $163 million worldwide.[4]

Hacksaw Ridge was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of its ten Movies of the Year.[5] and has received numerous awards and nominations, including six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Garfield. It also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor[6] and 12 AACTA Awards nominations, winning the majority, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for Garfield and Best Supporting Actor for Weaving.


While growing up near Lynchburg, Virginia, young Desmond Doss nearly kills his younger brother, Hal, hitting him with a brick. This traumatizing experience, along with a talk from his religious mother, firmly reinforces Desmond's belief in the commandment: Thou shalt not kill of the Old Testament. Years later, Doss saves a man who becomes injured by a car and while taking the man to hospital, is instantly smitten with a nurse, Dorothy Schutte. They soon begin dating and fall in love, and Doss begins to learn about medicine from her work.

With the majority of his town, including his brother, enlisting in the Army to fight in World War II, Doss is motivated to sign up as well. His father, a troubled veteran from the First World War, is deeply upset as he expects to lose his sons just as he lost his childhood friends. Because of his beliefs as a conscientious objector, Doss intends to serve as a combat medic. Before he leaves for training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he asks for Dorothy's hand in marriage, and she accepts.

Doss is placed under the command of Sergeant Howell, and while he excels physically, he immediately becomes an outcast among his fellow soldiers when he refuses to handle his rifle and train on Saturdays, as he is a Seventh-day Adventist. After Howell and Captain Glover fail to get Doss discharged for psychiatric reasons, Howell worsens Doss' conditions by putting him through grueling labor and turning his fellow soldiers against him by mistaking his beliefs for cowardice, intending to get Doss to leave of his own accord. Despite being beaten one night by his fellow soldiers, he refuses to disclose the identities of his attackers and continues training.

Doss' squad completes basic training and are released on leave, during which Doss intends to marry Dorothy, but he is arrested for insubordination for his refusal to carry a firearm. Dorothy visits Doss in jail, and tries to convince him to declare a guilty plea in his upcoming trial so that he can be released without charges, but Doss is still unsure, not wanting to compromise his beliefs. At his trial, Doss pleads not guilty, and before he is to be sentenced, his father barges into the courtroom with a letter from his former commanding officer (now a Brigadier General) stating that his son's refusal to carry a firearm is protected by an Act of Congress. The charges against Doss are dropped, and he and Dorothy are married.

Doss' unit is assigned to the 77th Infantry Division and sent to the Pacific theater to participate in the Battle of Okinawa. At Okinawa, Doss' unit is informed that they are to relieve the 96th Infantry Division, which was tasked with climbing the cliff face of the Maeda Escarpment, nicknamed "Hacksaw Ridge", to take on the Japanese forces stationed there. Because the Japanese forces are dug in on the ridge, artillery bombardments from the US Navy have not had much success in softening up the landing zone. Consequently, U.S. forces have been pushed off the ridge repeatedly, in each case taking heavy casualties. In the initial fight, losses are heavy on both sides, and Doss is successful in saving several soldiers, including ones whose injuries appear too severe for them to survive. The Americans bivouac for the night, and Doss spends the night in a foxhole with Smitty, a squad mate who was the first to call Doss a coward. Doss tells Smitty that he nearly shot his drunken father after he threatened his mother with a gun, revealing his aversion to holding a firearm. Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage and the two make amends.

The next morning, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off Hacksaw. Smitty is killed and many Americans, including Howell and several of Doss' squad mates, are injured and left on the battlefield. Doss hears the cries of the dying soldiers and decides to run back into the carnage instead of away from it. He spends the entire day and night carrying wounded soldiers to the cliff's edge and rappelling them down on rope, each time praying to save one more. The arrival of dozens of wounded who were presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below. When day breaks, Doss rescues Howell and the two finally escape Hacksaw under enemy fire.

Captain Glover tells Doss that the men have been inspired by what they are calling his miracle, and that they will not launch the next attack without him. Despite the next day being Doss' Sabbath day, he joins his fellow soldiers to care for the wounded. Along with extra reinforcements, they begin to win the battle. During an ambush set by a falsely surrendering group of Japanese, Doss manages to save Glover and others by knocking enemy grenades away with his bare hands. Doss is wounded by the blast of one grenade, but the battle is won. Doss is safely lowered down the cliff, clutching the Bible Dorothy gave him.

After rescuing over 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge, Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman, the first time in history it was given to a conscientious objector. Doss stayed married to Dorothy until her death in 1991. He died on March 23, 2006, at the age of 87.


  • Andrew Garfield as Desmond T. Doss
  • Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell
  • Sam Worthington as Captain Glover
  • Luke Bracey as Smitty Riker
  • Hugo Weaving as Tom Doss
  • Ryan Corr as Lieutenant Manville
  • Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte, Doss' wife
  • Rachel Griffiths as Bertha Doss, Doss' mother
  • Richard Roxburgh as Colonel Stelzer
  • Luke Pegler as Milt "Hollywood" Zane
  • Richard Pyros as Randall "Teach" Fuller
  • Ben Mingay as Grease Nolan
  • Firass Dirani as Vito Rinnelli
  • Damien Thomlinson as Ralph Morgan
  • Robert Morgan as Colonel Sangston
  • Nathaniel Buzolic as Harold "Hal" Doss



The project was in development hell for 14 years.[7]

Numerous producers had tried for decades to film Doss' story, including decorated war hero Audie Murphy and Hal B. Wallis (producer of Casablanca).[8]

In 2001, after finally convincing Doss that making a movie on his remarkable life was the right thing to do, screenwriter/producer Gregory Crosby (grandson of Bing Crosby) wrote the treatment and brought the project to film producer David Permut through the early efforts of Stan Jensen of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which ultimately led to the movie getting financed.[7]

In 2004, director Terry Benedict won the rights to make a 2004 documentary about Doss and secured dramatic rights in the process. However, Doss died in 2006, after which producer Bill Mechanic acquired and then sold the rights to Walden Media, which developed the project along with producer David Permut of Permut Presentations.[9] Co-producers of the film are Gregory Crosby and Steve Longi.[10] Walden Media insisted on a PG-13 version of the battle, then Mechanic spent years working to buy the rights back.[8][11]

After acquiring the rights, Mechanic approached Mel Gibson and wanted him to blend the concoction of violence and faith as he did with The Passion of the Christ (2004). But Gibson turned down the offer twice as he previously did with Braveheart (1995).[12]

Then nearly a decade later, Gibson finally agreed to helm the film on November 2014. The same month Andrew Garfield was also confirmed to play the role of Desmond Doss.[9]

With a budget of $40 million, the team still faced many challenges. Hacksaw Ridge became an international co-production with key players and firms located in both the United States and Australia. When Australian tax incentives were taken off the table, they had to qualify the film as Australian to receive government subsidies. Fortunately for the production, despite being American-born, Gibson's early years in Australia helped the film qualify along with other Aussie-born cast members such as Rachel Griffiths (Doss' mother), Teresa Palmer (Doss' girlfriend/wife) and Luke Bracey, one of Doss' most antagonistic unit members. Rounding out the cast are unit leaders Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington, and Hugo Weaving as Doss' father.[13]

On February 9, 2015, IM Global closed a deal to finance the film and also sold the film into the international markets.[14] On the same day, Lionsgate acquired the North American distribution rights to the film.[15] Chinese distribution rights were acquired by Bliss Media, a Shanghai-based film production and distribution company.[16]

Hacksaw Ridge is the first film directed by Gibson since Apocalypto in 2006,[17][18] and marks a departure from his previous films, such as Apocalypto and Braveheart, in which the protagonists acted violently.[19]


Robert Schenkkan and Randall Wallace wrote the script while Wallace was previously attached to direct the film. Andrew Knight polished the original script. Gibson's partner Bruce Davey would also produce the film along with Paul Currie.[20]


The cast – Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Rachel Griffiths, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Pegler, Richard Pyros, Ben Mingay, Firass Dirani, Nico Cortez, Michael Sheasby, Goran Kleut, Jacob Warner, Harry Greenwood, Damien Thomlinson, Ben O’Toole, Benedict Hardie, Robert Morgan, Ori Pfeffer, Milo Gibson, and Nathaniel Buzolic, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Corr – were announced between November 2014 and October 2015.[20][21][22][23][24] The younger Doss was played by Darcy Bryce.[25]

Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a US Army medic awarded Medal of Honor by the President Harry S. Truman for saving lives during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.[9] Garfield had high regards for Doss and venerated him for his act of bravery hailing him as a "wonderful symbol of embodying the idea of live and let live no matter what your ideology is, no matter what your value system is, just to allow other people to be who they are and allow yourself to be who you are." He found the idea of playing a real superhero (as compared to his past roles playing of Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel) much more inspiring.[26] Garfield admitted that he cried the first time he read the screenplay.[27] He visited Doss' hometown and touched his various tools.[28] Gibson was drawn to Garfield the first time he saw his performance in The Social Network.[19]

Teresa Palmer wanted to land a role in the film so badly that she auditioned via her iPhone and sent the recording to Gibson. She heard nothing back for three months, until Gibson called Palmer to tell her in a Skype chat that she landed the role of Dorothy, Doss' wife.[29]

Principal photography[]

Principal photography started on September 29, 2015,[18] and lasted for 59 days[30] ending in December of that year[7] and was filmed entirely in Australia.[12] The film was based at Fox Studios in Sydney after producers vigorously scouted for locations around the country.[31] Filming took place mostly in the state of New South Wales — where Gibson spent much of his early years — in and around Sydney such as in Richmond,[32] Bringelly,[33] and Oran Park.[34] He moved to the state in July 2015, two months before filming began.[35] The graveyard scene was shot at the Centennial Park Cemetery.[36] Filming in Bringelly required the team to clear over 500 hectares of land including deforesting 80 trees. This evoked the ire of certain environmentalists. However, producers had the full clearing and approval to take up such tasks after conditions were imposed to replant and rehabilitate part of the land after filming ceased.[37] According to Troy Grant, New South Wales' deputy premier and minister for the arts, the film brought in 720 jobs and US$19 million to regional and rural New South Wales.[38]

Altogether, three jeeps, two trucks and a tank were featured in the film.[12] Bulldozers and backhoes were used to transform a dairy pasture near Sydney to re-create the Okinawa battlefield. A berm had to be raised around the perimeter so cameras could turn 360 degrees without getting any eucalyptus trees in the background.[12] Gibson did not want to rely heavily on computer visual effects, either on the screen or in pre-visualizing the battle scenes. Visual effects were only used during bloody scenes like napalm-burnt soldiers.[12] During filming the war scenes, Gibson incorporated his past war-movie experiences and would yell to the actors reminding them constantly of what they were fighting for.[12]


The film is described as an anti-war film[39] with pacifist themes.[12] It also incorporates recurring religious imagery such as baptism and ascension.[2]

Historical accuracy[]

File:Doss Maeda.jpg

Doss on top of the Maeda Escarpment, May 4, 1945

After the war, Doss turned down many requests for books and films, because he was wary of whether his life, wartime experiences, and his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs would be portrayed inaccurately or sensationally. Doss' only child, Desmond Doss Jr., stated: "The reason he declined is that none of them adhered to his one requirement: that it be accurate. And I find it remarkable, the level of accuracy in adhering to the principal of the story in this movie."[40] Producer David Permut stated that they took great care in maintaining the integrity of the story as Doss was very religious.[2]

The makers of the film did change some of the details, notably the backstory about his father, the incident with the gun Doss took out of his alcoholic father's hands, and the circumstances of his first marriage.[40][41] The film also does not mention his prior combat service in the Battle of Guam and Battle of Leyte and leaves the impression that Doss' action on Okinawa took place over a period of a few days but his Medal of Honor citation covered his actions over a period of about three weeks.[40]


File:Abbey road studios.jpg

The film's score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.

The film's accompanying score was provided by Rupert Gregson-Williams and was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, with an orchestra of 70 musicians, and a 36-piece choir.[42]


The world premiere of Hacksaw Ridge occurred on September 4, 2016,[43] at the 73rd Venice Film Festival, where it received a 10-minute standing ovation.[44] The film was released in Australia on November 3, 2016, by Icon Film Distribution and in the United States on November 4, 2016, by Summit Entertainment. The film released by Icon Film Distribution in Australia on November 3, 2016,[45] and by Lionsgate/Summit in the United States on November 4, 2016.[46] It will be released by Bliss Media in China in November,[47][48] with IM Global handling international sales.[18] and in the United Kingdom in 2017.[49]


In August 2016, Gibson appeared in Pastor Greg Laurie's SoCal Harvest in Anaheim, California, to promote the film.[50]


Box office[]

Template:Asof, Hacksaw Ridge has grossed $65.5 million in the United States and Canada and $97.7 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $163.2 million, against a production budget of $40 million.[4]

The film opened alongside Doctor Strange and Trolls and was projected to gross around $12 million from 2,886 theaters, and was expected to play very well among the faith-based, Midwest and Southern audiences.[51][52] It made $5.2 million on its first day and $15.2 million in its opening weekend, finishing third at the box office. The debut was on par with the $15 million opening of Gibson's last directorial effort, Apocalypto, in 2006.[53] In its second weekend the film grossed $10.8 million (a drop of just 29.1%), finishing 5th at the box office.

The film also opened successfully in China, grossing over $16 million in its first four days at the box office.[54]

Critical response[]

Hacksaw Ridge received "rave reviews," according to the New Zealand Herald.[55] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 174 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Hacksaw Ridge uses a real-life pacifist's legacy to lay the groundwork for a gripping wartime tribute to faith, valor, and the courage of remaining true to one's convictions."[56] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average to reviews, the film has a score of 71 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[57] CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[58]

The Milford Daily News called the film a "masterpiece", adding that it "is going to end up on many 2016 Top 10 lists, that should get Oscar nominations for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture."[59] Maggie Stancu of Movie Pilot wrote that "Gibson made some of his most genius directing choices in Hacksaw Ridge, and Garfield has given his best performance yet. With amazing performances by Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington and Hugo Weaving, it is absolutely one of 2016's must-see films."[60] Mick LaSalle of SFGate called the film "a brilliant return for Mel Gibson, which confirms his position as a director with a singular talent for spectacle and a sure way with actors."[61] In The Film Lawyers, Samar Khan called Hacksaw Ridge "fantastic" and emphasised "just how wonderful it is to have Gibson back in a more prominent position in Hollywood, hopefully with the demons of his past behind him. If Hacksaw Ridge is any indication, we are poised for a future filled with great films from the visionary director."[62] The Telegraph awarded the film four stars and added: "Hacksaw Ridge is a fantastically moving and bruising war film that hits you like a raw topside of beef in the face – a kind of primary-coloured Guernica that flourishes on a big screen with a crowd.”[63]

The Guardian also awarded the film four stars and stated that Gibson had "absolutely hit Hacksaw Ridge out of the park."[64] The Australian’s reviewer was equally positive, stating that, as a director, "Gibson’s approach is bold and fearless; this represents his best work to date behind the camera."[65] Rex Reed of Observer rated the film with four stars and called it "the best war film since Saving Private Ryan. It is violent, harrowing, heartbreaking and unforgettable."[66] Michael Smith of Tulsa World called Hacksaw Ridge a "moving character study" and praised both the direction and acting. He observed: "It’s truly remarkable how Gibson can film scenes of such heartfelt emotion with such sweet subtlety as easily as he stages some of the most vicious, visual scenes of violence that you will ever see. ... Hacksaw Ridge is beautiful and brutal, and that’s a potent combination for a movie about a man determined to serve his country, as well as his soul."[67] IGN critic Alex Welch gave the film a score of 8/10, and praising it as "one of the most successful war films of recent memory" and "at times horrifying, inspiring, and heart-wrenching."[68] Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, praising Gibson's direction, and saying: "There are two moments during the second half of Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge when I literally jumped out of my seat in terror. The film's depiction of war is the best I’ve seen since Saving Private Ryan."[69] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 3.5 stars and praised it as "the best war film since Saving Private Ryan and wrote: "Thanks to some of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed, Gibson once again shows his staggering gifts as a filmmaker, able to juxtapose savagery with aching tenderness." He added: "[I]t is violent, harrowing, heartbreaking and unforgettable. And yes, it was directed by Mel Gibson. He deserves a medal, too."[70] In stark contrast, Matt Zoller Seitz for gave the film 2.5 stars and described it as "a movie at war with itself."[71] Guy Westwell, writing for The Conversation, criticized the depiction of Doss' pacifism as contributing to the jingoism of the film.[72]


Main article: List of accolades received by Hacksaw Ridge

See also[]

  • The Conscientious Objector (2004 documentary about Doss)
  • Thomas W. Bennett U.S. Army Combat Medic who received the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam
  • Joseph G. LaPointe Jr. U.S. Army Combat Medic who received the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Brooks Barnes (October 26, 2016). "'Hacksaw Ridge,' a Gory War Movie for Both Hawks and Doves". The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
  3. "'Doctor Strange' To Give Booster Shot To Sleepy Fall Box Office".
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  13. "Hacksaw Ridge: Mel Gibson's Comeback". October 27, 2016.
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  49. Phil De Semlyen (September 22, 2016). "Exclusive: Mel Gibson talks Hacksaw Ridge". Empire. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  50. Jardine Malado (October 6, 2016). "Mel Gibson's new Christian film 'Hacksaw Ridge' receives 10-minute standing ovation; Movie hits U.S. theaters November 2016". The Christian Times. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
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  54. "'Doctor Strange' to Repeat at #1 as 'Arrival', 'Almost Christmas' & 'Shut In' Hit Theaters". Box Office Mojo.
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  56. "Hacksaw Ridge (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  57. "Hacksaw Ridge reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  58. "CinemaScore".
  59. Ed Symkus. "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Hacksaw Ridge' is a masterpiece". Milford Daily News, 2 November 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  60. Maggie Stancu. "Why 'Hacksaw Ridge' Is One Of The Must-See Movies Of The Year". Movie Pilot, 18 November 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  61. Mick LaSalle. "Amid much gore, Mel Gibson achieves an antiwar triumph". SFGate, 3 November 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  62. Samar Khan. "Mel Gibson makes his triumphant return with the fantastic Hacksaw Ridge". The Film Lawyers. Retrieved December 27, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  63. Robbie Collin. "Hacksaw Ridge review: Mel Gibson goes to war with a bruising, fantastically moving comeback". The Telegraph, 4 November 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  64. Andrew Pulver. "Hacksaw Ridge review – Mel Gibson finds a conscience in gruesome war story". The Guardian, 4 September 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  65. David Stratton. "Film reviews: Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge; The Light Between Oceans". The Australian, 5 November 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  66. Rex Reed. "Mel Gibson's 'Hacksaw Ridge' Is the Best War Film Since 'Saving Private Ryan'". Observer, 2 November 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  67. Michael Smith. "Movie review: 'Hacksaw Ridge' is moving character study and brutal". Tulsa World, 2 November 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  68. Welch, Alex (November 2, 2016). "Hacksaw Ridge Review: A brutal and effective filmmaking return for Mel Gibson". IGN. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  69. Ryan, Mike (November 1, 2016). "Mel Gibson's 'Hacksaw Ridge' Is The Most Intense Depiction Of War Since 'Saving Private Ryan'". Uproxx. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  70. Travers, Peter (November 2, 2016). "'Hacksaw Ridge' Review: Mel Gibson Returns With a War Movie About Peace". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  71. Seitz, Matt Zoller (November 4, 2016). "Hacksaw Ridge". Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  72. Westwell, Guy (January 26, 2017). "Hacksaw Ridge promised to champion pacifism – but the film is sadly just jingoistic". theconversation. Retrieved January 26, 2017.

External links[]

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