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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 14:46 GMT
Black Hawk Down: Your views
Ridley Scott's latest film, Black Hawk Down, is about one doomed mission, the true story of what happened when crack US troops launched a fraught mission to capture warlords in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in 1993.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Ewan McGregor is the best known face to appear but the hero is rising star Josh Hartnett, who plays young Sergeant Matt Eversmann, forced to lead his own team for the first time.
"The film tells the story with surprisingly little US bias, and is a gripping, close-up vision of the battle that began as a snatch mission and turned into a fight for survival," wrote BBC News Online's Ian Youngs.
But what do you think?
Is it a fair representation of the true events? Is the dramatisation too harrowing for the average cinema goer?
As faithful to the events as the book was. I was staggered by the constant visual reiteration of ironic futility. Thank you, Ridley Scott, for presenting history with the honest and unflinching eye of a true artist.
"Black Hawk Down" is one of the few movie screenings I've ever attended where no one talked during the 2-½ hour running time. No one left their seats until the movie ended. Not one. One of the most powerful and realistic films I've ever seen. It tells us and shows us exactly how it is. This is a film about real people in the real world who were placed in harm's way solely because of political expediency. Many of who really died.
Ridley Scott masterfully directs in such a way that he takes the most chaotic and confusing of situations and makes it clear to the movie viewer what exactly is happening and does so on a multi-dimensional level.
The screenplay allows the characters to explain what war on the battlefield is about. Before the raid one battle tested veteran says to a soldier who is untested: "When that first bullet goes by your head, politics goes out the window." Later, when it is all over he explains that when he goes back home and people ask him what happened, he won't even try to explain, because they would never understand. In battle it is always about the same thing he says, "just you and the guy next to you."
Every politician should be made to watch this film to see the human toll that their decisions make. "Black Hawk Down" brilliantly demonstrates that war is not a military act but a political one, and that there really is a difference between dying for something and dying for nothing. Every one of the soldiers who were killed died for their friends. None of them died for nothing.
I am a Somali who lived in Mogadishu when the event of October 3 took place. I have seen the movie. I was reminded of the nightmare of the evening and the city lighted up with fire.
The movie shows the suffering and the humanity of the Americans but not the Somalis who died.
Mogadishu is not as ugly is it is potrayed. The people do not look like anything like Somalis but West Africans.
They made the mission as if it was only the U.S. They ignored to report that there were thousands of UN troops in Mogadihsu but the US chose to
ignore them and take the mission themselves. I think they should have shown part of that history.
Mahamad Salim, New Zealand
The finest war film ever made. It is chaotic and at the same time it has a genuine heart and real feelings. There are many powerful scenes in this picture, both violent and not. Ridley Scott has made the picture of his career, and Jerry Bruckheimer has made his best picture as well. The film strikes a chord, and nearly reduced my brother to tears, that's how powerful much of it is.
The film was very faithful to the book. Although scenes may be described as graphic, it should be remembered that this is what happened eight years ago and yet few people remember.
I think the film
is not representative.
is not a true story.
Black Hawk Down is a good Hollywood movie. I have no problems with the Americans presenting themselves as the heroes of that battle which took place in Mogadisho. But I have a problem with not telling the whole story.
Many people don't remember that when that battle was over, the very person the United States was trying to capture, General Aidiid, was flown to Ethopia on a US Army aeroplane. He was protected and guarded by US Rangers on that flight to Ethopia and return to Mogadisho. If I remember correctly most of the Rangers were given a safe path to their base by Aidiid in exchange for him to walk freely. It has has been reported that many hundereds of US troops could have died in that battle but because of these arrangements they were saved.
Nanthakumar, N, Canada
One sided, factually incorrect and pandering to the flag waving morons. It bites!
Welcome to history re-written, a new propaganda for a scared nation.
This is as realistic as Hollywood could come. There is of course some star-spangled flag waving, but this is to be expected in a Hollywood movie about Rangers and Deltas. In a perfect world, more attention would have been paid to the Malaysian and Pakistani peacekeepers, and indeed the 500 dead Somalis - but that is up to the director, not the audience. The fact is, this movie is already a success because people are discussing it. People are at least aware of what happened, albeit from a biased source, and can now voice their opinions. The story has come out, for better or worse.
The portrait of the soldiers was very much in the Bruckheimer tradition. But moments in the script and direction allowed the film to openly question the military motivations and also showed moments of fallibility. It wasn't Saving Private Ryan, but then again, it wasn't Full Metal Jacket.
As a Somali man who is utterly depressed about our long drawn out national suicide, I would have been more impressed if Ridley Scott made a movie called Whole Country Down. As for the movie it seems to have no bearing on what actually took place in Mogadishu in 1993.
Dawn, United States
Great movie and certainly quite entertaining. As for the apparent jingoism the movie portrays, I don't agree. I do think the story told is biased toward the US but find it's amusing that some critics suggest it caters toward flag-waving Americans who don't know the difference between fact and fiction. The Americans take a lot of abuse for their patriotism, yet it is still the Americans we turn to when a job needs to be done.
You could draw comparisons with Mogadishu and how the US army reacted. I think it is hard to comment unless you have experienced being a sitting target surrounded by people that hate you.
I can't remember the last time that I was so bored watching a film. Awful film that I found was offensive by the end (although I don't know how I lasted that long). The American soldiers running from Mogadishu leaving the 'savages' behind in the city, as they watch them leave to be welcomed with cheers as they enter the Pakistani Stadium in the fog, with 'soaring' music. This is only one example of the blatant attempt at manipulation of the senses throughout the film. No subtlety at all. A Jerry Bruckheimer film directed by Ridley Scott, is still a Jerry Bruckheimer film and we are all aware of the fine fare that has come from his stable (Pearl Harbour, Armageddon anyone?)
Johanna Yngvason, US citizen living in Iceland
Zulu: British (all white) - Good tea drinking and brave gentlemen. Zulus (all balck) - Bad faceless savages. Black Hawk Down aka (Zulu 2002): Americans (all white) - Good innocent and brave young men. Somalis (all black) - Bad faceless savages.
These were my feelings after seeing the movie but on reflection I think this movie is about dispelling the glamour of war shown by some previous Hollywood movies.
Am big fan of Mr R. Scott and I think he as done a great job of showing the horrors of a war situation but the movie would have been much more thought provoking and possibly a landmark if it had a least tried to show what in God's name the Somalis were about.
Africa is a very backward place
by western standards but please, Africans are people -
some good, some bad like every other place - but not spear
or Rocket Launcher-waving savages.
There are two ways to look at this film: A glimpse into history or purely an artistic "take" on history. Artistically is scores. Historically, it fails in its bias toward American heroism (though certainly heroes emerged from the conflict) while often trivialising Somali misery. The film successfully points out the failed "nation building" policies of the Clinton Administration while driving the point home that the UN is only as militarily strong as the US allows.
Does America's cultural imperialism know no bounds?! From the moment the U.S. forces timed their initial 'invasion' of Somalia with prime time U.S. TV, it seemed that Hollywood now (re)writes world history. That "the victor writes the history" is nothing unusual...the British did it for years. What is scary, but not suprising, is that the U.S. seem to gulp this down with glee. (As demonstrated by these reviews from our freinds 'over there').
Once again, every U.S. citizen is a hero, and as long as the 'savage foreigners' look and behave as such, the Americans can sleep tight in their cosy stereotypes. We see in films like U571,Behind Enemy Lines and Black Hawk Down, a rejection of history in favour of the sweetly saccharine 'stars 'n stripes' mentality.
Most concerning is that for most this should merely be an entertaining adventure, in the same mould as the Indiana Jones series, but it seems likely that the infamously insular majority of the American public,and their worldly American president, view this rubbish with the same reverence as George Washington's Cherry Tree fable. Ridley Scott has 'Sold out!'
I am persoanlly glad this has whipped up a storm of rhetoric. Does any single one person get the point, that this is in fact a film BASED on actual events, NOT a documantary? Has anyone forgotten that artistic liscence is a vital component to caprturing an audience's attention span for 2 hours? If anyone doubts the validity of the sources, including Somali sources, who if they were not directly involved in the fiasco how would they know that facts anyway, then there are a number of willing soldiers who took part in the battle that will recount the events, and have done so.
Can anyone not enjoy this as a piece of art based on a true story? If not, then the naysayers appear foolish anyway for spending capital to see a film about a country's soldiers whom they despise so much, yet call upon to settle every conflict, even those that cannot be settled (Middle East ).
I believe that Ridley Scott was trying to portray the accounts and experience of the American side of conflict as faithfully as he could from factual/personal sources. The opposing point of view should, of course, be known because no conflict can be satisfactorily explained with just one side represented. As the project's director, however, he may not have had the resources or the time to analyse and include that aspect of the film so now someone else should create a work explaining the Somali perspective.
Furthermore, three scenes which, in my mind, reasonably counter the jingoist/racist complaints are as follows: 1) When the older Somali man walks across the convoy, carrying a dead child 2) Towards the end of the movie, a desperate ranger shoots down what is, obvious to the audience, a female civilian 3) The attempted ambush where a young child kills a man, presumably his father, by accident. No one cheers at these scenes. Maybe some viewers who refuse to actually watch the movie force an explanation on them, but quite simply they represent the extreme pain of war and the toll taken on the Somali people. They certainly have to share time with many acts of American "heroism", but they are there for anybody willing to see them.
Much of the criticism directed at the film in this forum is absurd; Black Hawk Down is an unusually faithful film treatment of a book, and attacking the film for not showing enough of Somali culture is missing the point - the book was not a National Geographic report on the scenery and cultural traditions of the Horn of Africa, but a dissection of a US military operation and the reasons behind its failure.
An excellent movie. No Politically Correct baloney here. I am glad that the people who made it didn't try to pander to the Somalis or to the Islamic world in general. Tell people the truth, and then let them make up their own minds.
This is the best war film since Saving Private Ryan. Those who say otherwise are free to make a better movie. I'd like to see that.
"The finest war film ever made". I think not, although based on true events, this film was simply a big old war movie, in the same mould as those Hollywood used to churn out it the 50s and 60s. This was no Platoon, or Full Metal Jacket, but a shoot 'em up, loud and in your face. Stallone or Schwarzenegger would not of looked out of place if it had been them flying the helicopters. I loved it.
This movie was meant to tell the story presented in Bowden's book. It did a pretty good job of that, with some departures (as is always the case when a book is made into a film). I certainly agree this movie is not about Somalia and the events that led up to the 3 October 1993 battle. It did, however, tell the story of the battle well and, overall, I enjoyed the movie. However, for the definitive account of the battle itself, I recommend reading the book upon which the movie was based.
Black Hawk Down is an amazing movie. I love every minute of it. The American Rangers were completely overwhelmed by militia men who were not afraid of dying. I don't think the movie portrayed Somalis unfairly. These militia men behave the way the movie depicts them. They are blood thirsty and will take on anyone no matter how powerful. They were truly loyal to General Aidiid.
It is important to note that the Rangers were being fought by Aidiid¿s men and not by all the residents of Mogadisho. Another important point is that at the end of the movie the Rangers are not shot at but are giving a safe path to Mogadisho Stadium where the Pakistani solders were based.
I am definitely going to see the movie again.
Marcus, The Only Country - The USA
I found the film exciting to watch and shows that in real life, unlike film, things can go wrong. A brilliant adaptation and shows the bravery of such men in war times and shows why we should be showing respect.
This is a perfect movie, and its the most
wonderful movie I've ever seen. The movie is not
biased. It's balanced. If someone thinks that
the movie is the American side, of course, it
should be. The people who appear in the movie don't
have a Somali apearance either. It would be better for them
to go to the horn of African region, like Ethiopia, Djibouti
or Eretrea if they can't go to Somalia at the time they were
working on the movie. But everything else in the movie is
really good. It's a history.
There seems to be a lot of slack about how the movie didn't portray the Somalis accurately and it was too patriotic. The fact is, this is an American movie and the point of the film was to show the events that occurred from the point of view of the Rangers and the Deltas. It wasn't made to appease everyone who saw it. I believe it gave a good view of modern warfare, and the emotions and fears of military men who have never been in a battle. I absolutely loved this movie, and even though I am an American patriot, I didn't leave the film shouting USA! USA! I left with stong emotions for the American boys who were asked to do more for their country than the majority of us are. I'm glad this film was made so this event and the sacrifice of American soldiers is not forgotten.
The book does a better job of showing the point of view of the Somalis. If that's what you want to see, then read it.
John Doyle, USA
I found this film, harrowing and intense, difficult to watch, yet it forced a lot upon the viewer. As to whether or not the makers of the film stuck to the facts of the actual event, people need to remember that when Hollywood gets its hands on a topic like this, things are bound to be swung to a particular angle, and in this case I expected that the Americans would come out looking better than the Somalians.
Ridley Scott did a wonderful job of portraying war and suffering on camera, but I ask a lot of people who have commented on this site, what else were you honestly expecting? The American Film Industry has a long history of distorting factual events in order to make them more entertaining or profitable so get over it!
As to the Somalian issue, I would just like to point out that at the end of the film, it stated very clearly that although 19 American soldiers died, 1000 Somalians lost their lives, therefore
the film makers not acknowledged that other people were hurt and that Washington made a mistake. Therefore, sit back enjoy the film if you can, but most of all think of this in terms of it's not supposed to be a history lesson, if
film producers, directors etc. made films for that purpose I can guarantee that Hollywood, would not be what it is today.
Nice movie, Hollywood style that is, but the truth is, so called best elite soldiers in the world, delta and rangers, were taught an unforgettable lesson by a bunch of illiterate nomadic teens, who Somalis disdainfully refer to as mooriyan, or hooligans, and what did the elite soldiers do? They blindly killed hundreds and hundreds of children, women and donkeys, yes, hundreds of donkeys while this bunch of kids brought down helicopters and whipped America the great. Now the question is what would have happened if the real Somali soldiers, most of whom have left the country as refugees, had taken part in this fight? America would probably have nuked Somalia
Gregory Broadbent, UK
I think the movie was biased toward the Americans because it didn't tell the true story of the war as I saw it. Whether they are the skines or savages I think the Somalies should have been respected .
The movie just glorifies the US special forces. I was in Somalia a month after the incident, the Rangers were trapped, the whole operation was shrouded in secrecy. When it all went wrong they asked for help. The Malaysians and the Pakistanis extricated them. The Malaysians lost one soldier and lost 4 APCs. If not for the courage of the Malaysian soldiers, America's so called elite would have lost 70 of their Rangers. Distortion of history like even the Enigma machine has always been the right of Hollywood.
This film portrays the effects of bounded communities in the Somalian society. It has been viewed as one of the best motion pictures in recent times. It has also shown us the difficult task in peace keeping operations. Gen. Aidee was a monster in the city and thank God he is no more. Bravo to the U.S. soldiers that participated in such a painstaking operation and may the soul of those brave soldiers that died rest in perpectual peace.
Yes, it's a Hollywood movie, it's very entertaining and to be commercially viable in the States it has to show the Delta Force in a good light but what people forget is Hollywood has a monopoly on story telling using moving images, peoples' perceptions on historical events are forever shaped by these images and stories.
Ask most teens that saw the movie what they thought, and the common reply would probably be "Great effects, great action, Wow! I'm glad the soldiers were able to give those bad Somalians what they deserved".
Despite my reservations I am probably going to see this movie again, I enjoyed
it and dare I say loved it but can't help
the alarm bells at the back of my head at the
wicked/evil portrait of Africans in
It pained me to see so many lives lost in this horrific incident that took place in Somalia. The director's disregard for life was a discredit to humanity. Did not both countries lose human lives - be it children, men, women or soldiers. I think we tend to forget that not only 18 U.S. soldiers died defending human rights, but that over 1000 of God's creatures lost their lives and many others endured the pain caused by it.
Why is it that Americans appear to invite criticism when they intervene even for good reason? I thought Black Hawk Down was an interesting and entertaining film which demonstrated to me the moral initiative taken by the Americans to bring to book an evil Somali warlord and hence assist in the fair distribution of food and aid to so many Somalis who were clearly in need. American arrogance - nay. Sometimes it takes good men to stand up to evil and the 19 good men who died did just that. God bless them....and America.
The criticisms of "Black Hawk Down" voiced on this page are all valid and intelligent. Anyone who wishes to know the true story must read Bowden's book and other sources. But the film's producers make no mistake about their objective: to portray, as accurately as possilbe within "blockbuster" Hollywood constraints, the struggle of US Special Operations forces in Somalia in 1993. Their admitted aim is not to tell the broad story of the crisis in Somalia. It is unfair, and in fact a little too easy, to say they failed to do something they had no intention of doing.
Hey, this is a film made in Hollywood, for Americans, about a horrible tragedy told from the point of view of American film-makers.
What, we can't "wave our flag" without being called jerks by the rest of the world?
It's not about the Somalis. It's about Americans who were killed in the battle. It's a MOVIE!!!! BASED on actual events!!!! Not a fact by fact reporting of what really happened!!
We have a right to patriotism, just the way the rest of the world does.
Difference is, the Americans who don't agree with their country's policies get to keep their lives....
It is a movie. Nothing more, nothing less. It is a movie BASED on a true story. Critics residing in other nations should present a movie perhaps BASING it on their interpretation. Oh that's right you all are second rate/third rate citizens of this world. Says who? Pax-Americana (USA). Job well done.
Black Hawk Down was an extremely harrowing portrayal of the events of Oct 3rd, but was unfortunately in the same vein as most of the other films "based on true events" that have come out of Hollywood recently.
I did not find it nearly as bad as U571 or Pearl Harbour, both of which I found offensive to the memories of those who actually lived through the reality. If Hollywood is determined to make movies about actual events they must understand that they have a responsiblity to tell the truth. It is the next generations that will remember the film and not the school history lessons.
Black Hawk Down is only for those with a stong stomach...and those with the ablility to take the film with a pinch of salt.
And they really should have used real Somaliis or at least East Africans instead of West Africans, I couldn't help laughing at that!
Saw the movie last night. It is a good film. Read through several of the comments here, there seems to be three topics. Of course what people see is what they bring into the movie. This is what I saw:
The Americans: the politics of why we're here don't matter. It isn't about the flag, or the "Arkansas white boy." All that matters is that we keep faith with each other. This is why we are in the military and why we fight.
Adid's men: the Americans are interfering with us. We were winning our Civil War before the Americans came. So they have got to go, by any means necessary.
The Pakistanis/Malays: Fine, you started this thing without cluing us in. Now you need our help. OK. Sit down soldier, we'll move when we're ready.
I don't think this particularly misrepresents any of the parties involved. It is just the way the world works. Which is why things typically end in gunfire. And the film shows the cost to all parties involved of choosing that option.
For the Americans it is a movie and it is "Black Hawk Down" and 18 service men but for the Somalis it is reality and it a "COUNTRY DOWN" that lost more than 200,000 people and still counting. Now let your humanity side guide you and see how these too incidents could be compared. Peace on Earth. Thanks.
Whilst Scott's feat as a director deserves high praise, I left the theatre wondering why he bothered. I have seen many movies which illustrated the unbelievable hell that is war, depicted the importance of comradeship, and went some way to showing the political impetus motivating military action, but Black Hawk Down did nothing to advance my understanding. I had a fair understanding of the events of that day and exiting the cinema I felt no more enlightened, I might even be a little more confused. America's finest soldiers don't seem to have been well-served by this depiction of their efforts.
The fact that they didn't use real Somalians or even east Africans is very insulting. There is no shortage of Somalian refugees in the world! The use of actors of west African/Caribbean appearance was the equivalent of blacking up white guys to play red indians in old westerns. The Somali accents were extremely poor - I can speak better Somalian! Somalis are marginalised enough - it really added insult to injury.
An unrealistic film. It is an anachronism. Nobody has a bird's eye view of a battlefield except the helicopters, which are too far away to experience the battle at the foot soldiers level; consequently, nobody is the "deus ex machina" third person of the movie. So if you think this is a realistic movie you are mistaken.
That said, this battle was like the Vietnam battle of "We were Soldiers Once", which is to be played by Mel Gibson soon, in that human wave attacks were used by the weaker armed side. Ask yourself: who is more heroic, the ignorant peasant who sacrifices his or her body to modern gunfire, or the unwilling soldier who is just doing his job by killing the peasant? That is the question. Answer: both, and neither.
It was a film made to make you feel like you were in a war. And that's exactly what it did. Whichever side you were on (USA or Somalia), it generally was scary as heck and that's how war is. It made it feel like I was there and how I never want to be involved in a war. There don't appear to be any winners at all.
What people seem to forget is it is just a movie. If the Bruckheimer/Scott partnership had actually shown what had really happened, the box office takings would be halved. If you want my advice, (here it comes) let the US pat themselves on the back for a while, after the events of September 11th, I think they need an outlet. Always remember... it's just a film.
Is it sane or human to say sit back and enjoy the movie while mentioning the death of 19 US Rangers and 1000 Somalis? Whatever the movie portrayed, you're all missing the facts. Over 1020 people lost their life and applauding that only reveals and appeases the wild beast within us. Shame on the human race!!
"Black Hawk Down" must rank as one of the best combat movies I have ever seen. The Rangers and Delta Force fought Somali gunmen for at least twelve hours even though they were greatly outnumbered. We should not forget that the Somalis dragged around the corpses of dead Americans. How can people who perform such barbaric acts be portrayed in a positive light?
As a journalist who witnessed the arrival of the American Marines in Somalia on December 9th 1992, visited Somalia several times during the intervention and returned to Mogadishu a few days after October 3rd 1993, I had hoped that Blackhawk Down might portray the reality of the agony of Somalia and the American dilemma there.
Instead, I saw a piece of pornography that demeaned Somalis and the Americans who died on October 3rd. Important truths were ignored, a lot of lies were added. It was a cowboy and Indian movie of the most violent, racist type. The Americans were the good cowboys surrounded by mad evil brutes.
The reality was that 18 young Americans died quite unecessarily through the incompetence of their commanders and the arrogance of American polticians. More than a thousand Somalis died that night too - most of them women and children killed by fire poured down on their homes from the gunships. It was a massacre of revenge.
Every other country whose troops were involved in atrocities in Somalia at that time have held full inquiries. Why has America, whose troops killed more Somalis than any other, never asked itself what went wrong?
After watching the movie I left feeling angry.The US went there with the best of intentions - feeding starving people. How were we thanked? American soldiers were killed and the bodies were mutilated by cheering mobs. America went after Aidid's organization after several Pakistani peacekeepers were killed by Aidid's forces.A lot of people forget that.Aidid was not a victim, he was the aggressor.
I think that everyone is way off base about what this film is about and why it was made. It should be obvious to all at this point that the sole reason for this film was to provide the Brits with food for criticism. After all, it's what they love the most. MMM America, let's see what we can nit pick about now! AWWW! They don't like it that we're patriotic, they don't like our flag waving...too bad...get a life!
Go to a therapist who will help you deal with your feelings of inferiority.
Many people critical of this film have constantly griped that the film does not wrestle with the "big issues" and isn't sufficiently "thought provoking." Their complaint usually follows claims about the film just showing terrible violence.
But in simply showing how terrible the violence was, in showing how absolutely wrong a "peace-keeping" mission can go, Black Hawk Down forces the viewer to think about the most critical issue of all: the horror we are subjecting young men to when we send them off to war, no matter what the reason. Hopefully this film will make some a little less willing to advocate the use of military force even for supposedly "humane" nation building exercises.
I didn't find the film to be patriotic jingoism in the least. Black Hawk Down was a story of everything going wrong, an anatomy of a disaster. The disaster in all of its forms had its causes in the actions chosen by the political elite of the world and the US.
For the film to be told from the perspective of the US troops on the ground is what gives the film its human dimension. These were soldiers sent to carry out a mission that they didn't ask for. Everything went wrong for reasons they couldn't control. And despite everything going wrong the US soldiers showed admirable courage and dedication to protect and rescue their comrades.
This film could teach many people a very important lesson. When you drop men with rifles into a combat zone, sometimes shooting breaks out. And a whole bunch of people can die. Any military engagement, no matter how noble you feel the cause, can go wrong. And when it does, this is what happens.
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