New Gib­son movie cel­e­brates medic

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

“REAL heroes don’t wear Span­dex,” Mel Gib­son told Venice last week­end, as he un­veiled his new World War II drama Hack­saw Ridge, star­ring An­drew Garfield of Spi­der­man fame.

The film tells the true story of Des­mond Doss (played by Garfield), who en­lists and is de­ter­mined to save lives on the front line as a medic, but re­fuses to carry a gun on moral grounds.

The flick’s ti­tle comes from a bat­tle­ground in Ja­pan at the top of a tow­er­ing cliff. US sol­diers who climb its sheer face are met with bunkers and corpses, as well as Ja­panese bul­lets and flame-throw­ers.

Doss, de­spite be­ing a con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tor, was awarded the Medal of Honor by Pres­i­dent Harry S Tru­man for sin­gle-hand­edly sav­ing the lives of over 75 of his com­rades dur­ing the bru­tal Bat­tle of Ok­i­nawa.

While the first hour of the movie is es­sen­tially a love story be­tween Doss and his fu­ture wife Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), the rest sees the bi­ble-clutch­ing medic first reviled then grad­u­ally ac­cepted by the rest of his squadron.

“The man who re­fuses to touch a weapon and wants to do some­thing much higher than some­thing as ve­nal as killing in a war is a very high call­ing,” Gib­son said, adding that he did be­lieve “just wars” ex­ist.

He said that with the vi­o­lent but es­sen­tially up­lift­ing film he hoped to “pay homage to and hon­our the war­rior”.

“It’s a sad fact that veter­ans of wars harm them­selves af­ter­wards. In Viet­nam so many peo­ple were killed in the con­flict but af­ter­wards over three times as many took their own lives.”

His Academy Award-win­ning Brave­heart (1995) was famed for its bloody bat­tle scenes, but here Gib­son has taken the blow­ing-off of legs and slic­ing-through of guts to an op­er­atic level.

“The im­por­tant thing with bat­tle and de­pict­ing it on screen is to give the im­pres­sion of chaos and con­fu­sion but to be ab­so­lutely clear what you want the au­di­ence to see,” he said.

“It’s all about screen di­rec­tion and know­ing where the play­ers are. You al­most have to ap­proach it as a sport­ing event. If you then put char­ac­ters into that sit­u­a­tion that you have ac­tu­ally come to care for it takes it up a level.”

A bearded Gib­son, whose first di­rec­toral of­fer­ing in 10 years is in com­pe­ti­tion for the Golden Lion, said he had felt like “a traf­fic cop” di­rec­tor, while Garfield said he was more like a mother.

“Mel’s re­ally in the scene with you – he can’t help it. He’s al­ways there with ev­ery sin­gle ac­tor in ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment. He’s like a good dad or a good mum, with that kind of won­der­ful nur­tur­ing in­stinct,” he joked.

Garfield, who shot to fame with the movie The Amaz­ing Spi­der­Man (2012) be­fore co-pro­duc­ing and star­ring in the 2014 thriller 99 Homes, said Doss was much more in­spir­ing than the web-weav­ing hero, whose Span­dex cos­tumes prompted Gib­son’s jibe.

“The fact that this man, who is built as skin­nily as I am, dragged men across the most rugged ter­rain un­der gun fire, sniper fire, the pos­si­bil­ity of mo­tors and shells, and then low­ered them down a 75foot es­carp­ment ... that’s like when you hear about moth­ers who lift trucks off ba­bies,” said Garfield.

“He had a know­ing in his heart and core that he wasn’t sup­posed to take a man’s life, but wanted to serve some­thing greater than him­self, and found his per­sonal ge­nius path to do that,” he said.

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