Hacksaw Ridge is, among other things, a comeback film for Mel Gibson, an Oscar-winning director who also used to be one of the world’s biggest movie stars.
It’s the first film he has directed in ten years — a hiatus that began with a couple of scandals that made him persona non grata in Hollywood — and when the poster and trailer came out in July, you could sense that the distributor wasn’t quite sure how prominent Gibson should be in the film’s ad campaign; as many people noted at the time, both the poster and the trailer avoided mentioning Gibson by name.
Now, however — after a successful film-festival launch that has resulted in a string of positive reviews and several proclamations that Gibson is out of the doghouse — the distributor has put Gibson front-and-centre in its latest promotional video.
Here is the video, which begins with Gibson telling the camera, “Hi, Mel Gibson here. Thank you for giving me a couple of minutes to honour our veterans”:
It may be worth noting that Hacksaw Ridge tells the true story of Desmond Doss — a Seventh-Day Adventist who served as a medic during World War II but refused to carry a weapon because of his religious beliefs — and that this video makes no mention of Doss’s personal non-violence, only his bravery and his faith. It emphasizes what Doss had in common with the other soldiers, and not how he was different.
This points to one of the central tensions of the film, between Doss’s refusal to commit violence himself and the fact that he offered his non-violent service in support of the war effort and thus in support of the violence committed by his fellow American soldiers. Is the film pro-war or anti-war? Both? I’ll have more to say about this closer to the film’s release this coming Friday (or Thursday night, in some theatres).
Check out earlier Hacksaw Ridge trailers and other videos here: