“It is only the dead who have seen the end of war.” – Plato
I clearly remember a significant event back in my younger days, a horrific display of animosity that hit me was this news coverage! A mission in Somalia being exposed regarding a number of soldiers pinned down in a war torn territory without any chance of escape from their detractors. The CNN report I saw made my hair stand up as dead bodies being played with, dragged and humiliated by the people who shot them down…
As years passed I have been watching thought provoking and compelling films that have been released in theaters but I know that I’ll always remember that moment and as respect to their legacy, I will share my thoughts as well based from the story of real events brought to life into the big screen!
October 3, 1993 – Mogadishu, Somalia
Conflict has been the cancer of humanity for centuries and our predisposition to war has made us concomitant to our slow demise!
Russian’s RPG shot down 2 Sikorsky MH-60L Black Hawks Super Six One and Four (ironic isn’t it?) with unreconciled number of deaths and injuries were reported from both factions. It took 3 combined Divisions from the 75th Ranger Regiment, 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) and the Delta force joint initiative to carry out Operation Gothic Serpent.
These soldiers were mere individuals at first before they got their unforgiving training as needed in finding the courage and strength to overcome pain and their predicament. It was meant for taking out the human instinct which still gives a margin for error and these undertakings will be the basis in the given life or death situations these people face day in and day out!
Mark Bowden wrote the book and was bought 6 years later by blockbuster Producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The film’s origin actually started from a series of articles brought forth in The Philadelphia Inquirer which transpired into his New York Times international bestseller “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War”. The story on soldiers who gave part and risking their lives in extraditing these heroes on the battlefield has been Mark’s unrelenting labor. It was a very compelling subject matter accomplished by the aforementioned journalist who gave his utmost scrutiny with his interviews from actual surviving Rangers, recorded footages and radio traffic on that fateful day!
On the other hand, Screenwriter Ken Nolan and Mark had an agreement in basing it on indirect fiction instead of on what actually happened since it comprised of more than an 18 hour stand-off between an almost 4000 militia against 100 plus joint military forces from the US and Pakistan. It was overwhelming process of cutting down aspects of the story especially for the characters that needs to be amalgamated for practical reasons.
Maybe there was too much going on and the delivery on sequences were sometimes not given enough levity on the situation it could be the actor or the lines being delivered that should be worked on. An example was Chalk Four Team Leader Master Sgt. Matt Eversmann is portrayed by Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night) was one of the Rangers that actually came from depictions of 2 actual soldiers in the battlefield. Eric Bana (Munich) Sgt. First Class Norm Hooten, was commendable not just for his courage but performance wise, he nailed his character with austerity. Tom Sizemore (Heat) Lt. Colonel Danny McKnight on the other hand was at the same level too not asking questions on what his duties are, he’ll blindly walk the line to get to his men and provide cover support without any regard for his safety and Ewan McGregor (The Island) Specialist John “Coffee” Grimes acted with tenacity and better effort, putting on a lighter side on the grave situation, he gave a little bit of humor on screen just by trying to be a “real soldier” for once! (not being stuck in a desk job)
Since there were so many involved in the film, we can focus on those that had given more impact on the story. CW4 Michael Durant took part on personally explaining, retelling his moments of confrontation from warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid. Ron Eldard (House of Sand and Fog) plays the Pilot who endured 11 more excruciating days with his captors. He was accompanied by Delta Force Snipers Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart to fend off the increasing crowd; it made me stare at blank spaces for a long time on how their courage was able to put up with so much anger surrounding them worse part was these people had guns and stones in their hands. Gordon was persistent on the rescue and was given permission on his second request to get the men out from the crash site.
Director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) gives another breathtaking, memorable film experience as they assembled an all star cast from both rising stars and veterans in the industry! Filming took place in Morocco where a massive number of extras along with crew members undertook this daunting task while taking each step with great acuity. More so, with Ridley who is a visual genius both in front of the camera and while doing his illustrations for the action derived from storyboards in a matter of minutes, it’s instantaneous and he’s even left handed (no contest).
As usual, his partners with every project he makes comes the expression of music brought in to compliment the anguish of tragedy, the fast paced action and drama. Hans Zimmer (Gladiator) brings his deep sense of dark melancholy with hints of a renaissance of American conscience and African digression, soldiers marching on as a perpetuating duty for his country and people. The score even from the past films moves you; it makes you feel that sense of bond, cohesion on what it’s like to be in their shoes in every segment of the film!
Visual Effects Supervisor for Asylum and The Mill, David Jones and Tim Burke respectively were brought in to provide the digital aspect of the film in terms of fire fights, vehicle crashes, explosions, helicopter positioning with duplication and runaway projectiles from both ends. Let’s face it, this is reality based and there should be an understanding of health and safety coming from the film makers, knowing the danger posed by certain elements which cannot be controlled has been taken cared of by the studios using BG plates combined with CGI models they were able to incorporate fantastic details making it more invigorating to watch!
An important question that we need to ask is why the US needs to be the sole de facto “big brother” of this planet? I used to think that military was just the means of fighting enemies both in domestic and foreign lands but do we really have to condone this treatment? Did we actually learn from Vietnam, Iraq and for the last few years Afghanistan. For us to commemorate the heroism and patriotism of our soldiers fighting, exposing themselves in harm’s way is underrated to say for all the Government’s underpinning their so called humanitarian responsibilities and agenda. Nothing will end our conflict for it is our curse, we will trudge this planet seeking for ways to be exalted with our victories over the demise of others!