I’ve been saying for a while that Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, which tells the true story of a Seventh-Day Adventist who refused to carry a weapon yet nevertheless saved dozens of lives during the Battle of Okinawa, could be the “Christian World War II movie” that many people hoped Unbroken would be a couple years ago.
Now Brian Godawa — the Christian novelist, screenwriter and blogger who famously denounced Darren Aronofsky’s Noah while it was still being filmed — reports that Gibson has made slight changes to Hacksaw Ridge (at the writing stage, the editing stage, or both) to make it even easier to sell the film to Christian audiences.
Godawa made the claim in a blog post today in which he says he has seen a rough cut of the film and calls it “one of the most inspiring movies for this generation”:
And here is what is amazing… Gibson wants to do as much as he can to appeal to the Christian audience, without compromising his artistic vision. Something you didn’t see Aronofsky or Ridley Scott give a damn about. Gibson cut out all F-bombs and “taking of the Lord’s name in vain,” in response to Christian concerns. (Now, I happen to think that those demands by the Christian audience are actually unbiblical, but they are nevertheless demands of the demographic, and Gibson respects his audience.).
For what it’s worth, I agree with Godawa that the Christian “demographic” is wrong to want to remove those elements. I haven’t seen the film, so I don’t know who says what, but — quite aside from the fact that period-specific profanity has been key to the authenticity of World War II films like Saving Private Ryan — I can easily imagine a scenario in which, say, the language is used for characterization, to draw a clear line between the Christian hero and the soldiers who abuse him for his beliefs.
In any case, Godawa goes on to note that Hacksaw Ridge is still pretty intense:
Be aware though, this is about love and sacrifice in a world of great pain and suffering, so there is a lot of the violence, blood and gore of war to illustrate that redemptive power. Fortunately, Christian viewers are less consistent in their acceptance of movie violence, and don’t have as big a problem with it.
Presumably, then, Hacksaw Ridge will be just as R-rated as Gibson’s other films, even without the historically accurate profanity — but as Godawa indicates, the R-rated violence shouldn’t be a problem for the audience that made The Passion of the Christ a huge box-office hit. We’ll find out when Hacksaw Ridge opens November 4.