Mel Gibson’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Draws 10-Minute Standing Ovation in Venice

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Mel Gibson’s World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge drew a ten-minute standing ovation during its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on the Lido Sunday night, according to reports.

Hacksaw Ridge — which marks Gibson’s return to the director’s chair for the first time since 2006’s Apocalypto — centers on the true story of Desmond T. Doss, a conscientious objector and medic who received the Medal of Honor for saving 75 men during the bloody Battle of Okinawa during World War II, all without ever firing a gun.

The film screened out of competition at Venice on Sunday night, and, according to Deadline, ten-minute standing ovations are not as common at the Venice Film Festival as they are at other film festivals like Cannes and Sundance.

On hand to soak up the audience adulation at the premiere were Gibson and stars Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Luke Bracey and co-screenwriter Robert Schenkkan.

The film had screened for the press on Sunday morning, and early reviews have already pegged it as a serious awards contender and a bona-fide comeback effort for Mel Gibson. In his review of the film, the Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney wrote that the battle scenes are “dizzying” in their “sustained visceral impact, barely allowing time to identify casualties in a whirl of panic, pain and split-second decisions.”

Of course, the film will also become (if it has not already) a discussion point in the classic debate over art; is it possible to separate a work of art from the man who created it?

Variety film critic Owen Glieberman writes that Hacksaw Ridge is the “first film in a decade that can mark [Gibson’s] re-entry into the heart of the industry.”

“Yet to say that Hacksaw Ridge finally leaves the Gibson scandals behind isn’t quite right; it has been made in their shadow,” Glieberman writes. “On some not-so-hard-to-read level, the film is conceived and presented as an act of atonement.”

Hacksaw Ridge is in theaters November 4.


Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum


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