The movie Black Hawk Down portrays the incredible story of ‘The Battle of Mogadishu’ and the events that unfolded in the ill fated mission. Directed by the highly acclaimed Ridley Scott, it shows the events which took place in the Somalian capital throughout the 3rd and 4th of October, 1993. What began as nothing more than a raid by American soldiers quickly developed into a full blown battle in the streets of Mogadishu with American units fighting enemies in much greater numbers than their own. The Americans were part of the UN forces sent to monitor the developing civil war that had gripped the country 1991, destroying much of its agriculture and causing the deaths of over 300,000 people through starvation. Much of this starvation was caused by the militias who used it as a weapon, therefore any American involvement to provide food to the people of Somalia was seen as a threat to their cause, thus American soldiers became the enemy. Americans planned to capture high ranking militia officials in an attempt to hamper their activities, but it did not go according to plan.
When the assault began initially things went well, however things quickly turned sour after a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, subsequently crashing in the city. As a rescue mission began, a second helicopter was hit, crashing in another part of the city. The ensuing chaos led to American soldiers losing the initiative and instead fighting through the streets to try and save their comrades, practicing the Rangers code of never leaving a man behind, dead or alive. The film tells the story of these events and the soldiers who fought through the streets to rescue their comrades.
The film has to be held up as an excellent example of how to make a realistic war film. Although certain events and characters of the story have been altered in order to suit the needs to make the movie, the realism is astounding. The battle scenes are of such intensity that even veterans of the battle had to take a step back as they watched the filming, so shocked they were at how similar the making of the movie was to the actual battle. The involvement of the veterans in the film making, meeting with the actors, telling them their story and experiences, is surely the factor that gives this movie such quality. It’s a film of brutality, realism, brotherly bonds and heroism. But above all else, its the truth in this story that makes this film so outstanding, causing one to pause and wonder how any of these men made it out alive.
With a cast that, in terms of war films, can possibly only be rivaled by ‘A Bridge Too Far’, you know the film will be full of outstanding performances. The cast includes Josh Hartnett, Ewan Mcgregor,Tom Sizemore, Jason Isaacs, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, William Fichtner and Jeremy Piven, just to name a few. The story of the battle is epic in itself, but the ability of the film makers to capture this story on screen gives credit to the men who fought this battle and remembering their sacrifice.
Many look to the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’ as the best war film ever made, but in my opinion, Black Hawk Down holds that position, and will do for some time.