The story of the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor could hit movie theaters in 2016, with a director who’s no stranger to telling epic tales.
Deadline.com reported last month that Mel Gibson, the action hero-turned-movie mogul-turned-controversy generation machine behind “Braveheart” and “Passion of the Christ” is in talks to direct “Hacksaw Ridge,” which would introduce modern movie-goers to Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, an Army medic whose service on Okinawa in the spring of 1945 is the stuff of legend.
His Medal of Honor citation reads like a half-dozen citations pushed together. Among the highlights:
- As his unit reached the top of a 400-foot-high ridge, “a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff.”
- Days later, Doss “exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment.”
- Two days after that, he braved “a shower of grenades” to treat four wounded soldiers resting eight yards from enemy forces “before making four separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.”
- The next day, he dodged mortar shells to save an artillery officer, then carried a wounded soldier 100 yards to safety under enemy fire.
- After being wounded by grenade shrapnel, Doss treated his own leg injuries before a litter arrived to move him to cover. When he saw another soldier suffering more severe wounds, he “crawled off the litter and directed the bearers to give their attention to the other man.” He was hit again while he waited, suffering a compound fracture of his arm, at which point he ” bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station.”
All of the above leads to the question, how has this not been turned into a movie already? Well, it has been: The 2004 documentary “The Conscientious Objector” told the story through interviews with Doss and his fellow soldiers. Doss, a Seventh-Day Adventist who “didn’t believe in taking a life” (read his oral history interview here) died two years after the film’s release.
Andrew Garfield (“The Amazing Spider-Man”) is in talks to star in the upcoming movie, Deadline reported.