DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
Black Hawk Down is to me, the number 1 best war film that I have seen. Intense and relentless, it conveys the horror and tactics of modern warfare, and more to point, like all great and classic war movies, demonstrates the dedication, skill and spirit that warfare can manifest when all hell brakes loose, or the proverbial hits the fan.
Well cast, directed, edited, with an effective Hans Zimmer score and some of the best sound design I’ve ever heard, the engrossing horror of the situation was conveyed brilliantly. But there’s something that I find somewhat disturbing a lot this film, and it may well be a failure but it does demonstrate the effectiveness of the medium; The Somalians or the “Indigenous Personal” as they were so aptly referred to in the film, came across as heartless, rage filled amoral murderers, and while in many respects that may well be true, I found myself, and I doubt that I was alone, being filled with sense of glee every time one of these bastards was blown to pieces or filled with a hail of Uncle Sam’s bullets!
Also the scene where a child accidentally guns down his own father after a U.S. troop slips, is so very telling of the militia culture in that country at that time. Are we supposed to feel sorry for the Man? The Child? Or see it a poetic justice? Or just be relived that our “Peace Keeping” U.S. soldier got away with his life? In many ways, I think that the ambivalence if that scene, sums up what was so brilliant about this film.
Whilst on one hand, it’s hard to deny that we are supposed to feel for, respect and support our American hero’s who will go to extreme lengths to “Leave No Man Behind”, we’re are asked to look at why the Somalians have taken up arms? But in the end it’s a huge sociological issue and this film does not dwell too much on that. It touches on the fact that there are always two sides to any conflict, but like Zulu forty years before it, it chose its side, and that was the normally powerful under dog, and we saw them survive what many of us would have struggled to do.
This is truly a war film for war film fans, and a MUST SEE for everyone.
N.B. I would like to thank Sharon Smith, who at 12:24, on the 16th Sepetember 2002, sold me my first copy of Black Hawk Down from the Manchester Arndale branch of WHSmiths. By 6pm that night, I had seen this and was already throwing it at anyone who would watch it. Thank you Sharon, granted you will probably never have any idea of the impact that your tilling had on me that fateful afternoon but thought it was worth a mention none the less…