Based on Mark Bowden’s book about a failed attempt by U.S. troops to kidnap a Somali warlord’s underlings, and those troops subsequent struggle to fight their way out of the city of Mogadishu, BLACK HAWK DOWN is a poetically brutal film about is a tragic chapter in American military history. When I spoke with Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer about BLACK HAWK DOWN, the first thing I wanted to know was how the narrative film they made could illuminate the tragic events depicted in a way that was more effective than a documentary could have been. We went on to talk about depicting the carnage of war realistically, with Bruckheimer opining that everyone considering a military career should know what he or she is getting into, while Scott went into detail about the art of film editing.
BLACK HAWK DOWN pulls a neat trick. It is a biting indictment of war that doesn’t make villains of soldiers. On the contrary, it exalts them for their courage, for their selflessness and for their ability to show what Hemingway aptly described as grace under fire. Yet, for all the horror of war, and it doesn’t stint on showing us what happens to soldiers under fire in ways that are not tidy, it is at heart not anti-war. It does show, in sometimes graphic detail, why war should not be entered into lightly. The film stars Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Sam Shepard Eric Bana, Hugh Dancy, and Ioan Grufudd, Scott directed from a script by Ken Nolan based on Bowden’s book. His previous work includes ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER, and the iconic Apple Mac 1984 commercial. Bruckheimer produced BLACK HAWK DOWN, and his previous work includes FLASHDANCE, AMERICAN GIGOLO, BEVERLY HILLS COP, and DANGEROUS MINDS.
“On the contrary, it exalts them for their courage, for their selflessness and for their ability to show what Hemingway aptly described as grace under fire.”
It exalts the WHITE soldiers, you mean. The half of the book that shows the Somalis as human beings is conveniently omitted from the film, and they are shown merely as faceless villains.