The Black Hawk Down Experience.

16 Apr

Black Hawk Down is one of my favorite movies of all time—no question about it.  The film was directed by Ridley Scott (who also directed Gladiator starring Russell Crowe) and was based on Mark Bowden’s book, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War.  I was lucky enough to read the book before seeing the movie.  According to conventional wisdom, reading the book first usually leads to being disappointed with the film and its content and portrayal of events.  However, I have never been much for conventional wisdom.  Bowden’s book is outstanding and so is Ridley Scott’s film.  As far as I am concerned, in the inevitable book vs. movie comparison, it is a horse apiece.

Black Hawk Down creates what veterans of the battle describe as a very realistic representation of combat conditions.  Because the film puts you the viewer in the middle of  the battle experience,  the harsh violence of the movie seem all the more realistic and also justified, not gratuitous.  One of the most remarkable things about Black Hawk Down is that in spite of the chaos created by what many have termed “the fog of war” represented on screen, the film vividly maps out the soldiers’ strategies and tactics.  Director Scott frames the action so precisely, and through such perfect camera angles and placement, we are able to follow all of the action on screen, almost as though we, ourselves, are participating in the battle.  Most, if not all other directors, could not pull off this kind of controlled chaos–chaos that would have led to a very baffling movie experience.  Clearly, every last detail of this film has been thoroughly choreographed and intricately planned.

The film is based on the true story which takes place in Somalia, 1993: A small team of Army Rangers and Delta Force Troops on a peace-keeping mission, attempt to help avert mass genocide and to protect Somali citizens from barbaric acts of violence and the various militias that run the country.  When one hundred American soldiers are sent into Mogadishu to arrest a handful of influential militia leaders, they find themselves in the midst of a battle no one anticipated or envisioned.  Each soldier is confronted with the realities and horrors of combat as they protect each other from the surging ranks of hostile Somali forces.  Black Hawk Down is a relentless, harrowing, and true story of bravery, in the face of war.

Black Hawk Down comes from a genre that has brought out some of the best in directors, writers and actors, yet against all of this competition, the movie is easily the best war movie ever made.  Yes, I know it’s a bold statement, but I said it, and it’s out there now.  Also, what many “non-believers” of the Black Hawk Down experience seem to forget, among other things, is that the film did win an Academy Award for best sound.  I can’t believe I didn’t mention that earlier.


Posted by on April 16, 2010 in Movie Reviews


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

19 responses to “The Black Hawk Down Experience.

  1. Jude

    April 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Dude! Another double-clipper! All right!


  2. Bonnie

    April 16, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    This movie makes me more of a pacifist every time I see it. It does a good job of depicting the horrors of war.


    • jpfmovies

      April 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

      Well no one said it was easy, but a great film nonetheless.


  3. Serena Tasso

    April 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    JP, I have a request for you: Whale Rider. It’s a little known movie that might surprise you with how good it is. Maybe Jude and Dr. H will take an interest in it as well. I think you should give it a chance. Besides it’s a girl power film, and I’ve heard that you favor those, although I can’t quite tell from your reviews…some might say the movie selections are tending heavily toward war and violence.


    • jpfmovies

      April 20, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Yes I have heard of the “movie” but I must warn you in advance it may not be pretty.


  4. John Stevens

    April 20, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Mr. Fernandes, I have heard that you are one of the only men in America who truly appreciates yoga. Is this true? If so, I would like to add my name to that list and request that you review some male-friendly yoga videos — and by that I mean yoga videos that can actually be done by those of us who are not naturally flexible or pliant but who are instead by nature stiff and unyielding. My wife says I need to learn to be more flexible. Can you please help? or at least develop a sister (excuse me I mean a brother) yoga site? Or at least post a link to your favorite yoga teacher in Milwaukee, if you have one? Just an idea…

    Thank you,
    Suffering in Silence for Lack of Yoga


    • jpfmovies

      April 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

      I take no position on that statement.


    • jpfmovies

      December 8, 2012 at 6:35 am

      Are you still interested in such a review?


  5. Jude Finestra

    April 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Look, Dude, I mean Mr. Dude Stevens, this is a review of Black Hawk Down, one of the great war movies of all time. Do you think these guys had time for yoga? They were a little bit busy trying to keep from getting killed! A war is no place for Rainbeau Mars or Rodney Yee! Have you ever tried to shoot a rifle in warrior pose? Or god forbid pigeon pose or downward facing dog? You think tree pose will disguise a U.S. soldier as a tree? Well I didn’t see any trees in the footage of Mogadishu, baby! You must be out of your mind, dude! You must have flipped your lid! I mean, pull yourself together, man! Points for humor, though.


  6. John Stevens

    April 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    You’re missing the point Jude. I’m not saying do yoga while on duty in Somalia. I’m saying that the rest of us and maybe also those Black Hawk Down soldiers who returned to the U.S. could use some yoga to help us with our stress and give us a little down time. So mellow out Dude. Plus I’ve heard Mr. Fernandes is just the dude to help.


  7. Serena Tasso

    April 20, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with John. A little yoga would go a long way. But for the yoga videos, I recommend ratings of full lotus, half lotus, and yoga for the rest of us (ratings based on difficulty). I think JP could do it. And I’d like Dr. H to help. I bet a little yoga would be good for them both.


    • jpfmovies

      April 20, 2010 at 7:46 pm

      Yeah I am not sure those qualify as movies though.


  8. David Lang

    September 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    “That’s not a war Mr. Atto. That’s genocide.” What those people in Somalia had to deal with every second of their life is absolutely heart wrenching, not even knowing if they were even gonna make it through day because their situations were so tough. My heart goes out to all the victims. No one has the right to take another person’s life. And the violence proves nothing but the degradation of humanity.

    Recently I saw this movie, Attack on Darfur, at the NY film festival and realize that Darfur needs as much attention as it can possibly get. I myself had no idea how bad it was until I saw this movie which is a very real portrayal of the horror going on there. Even some of the actors are actual people from Darfur reenacting their actual raping and torturing. I cried so hard, but I’m glad I saw it cause it really opened my eyes to what’s going there.


    • jpfmovies

      September 28, 2010 at 9:03 pm

      I don’t disagree with you–war is truly mankind at its worst and it is the soldier that should want to avoid war at all costs because it is they that must bear the the burden of the atrocities. Generally we all believe that.

      Our purpose in looking at BHD was not advocate war, but to look at it from the perspective of a film watcher/maker or however you choose to look at movies. I think (as you can see by reading my posts) that BHD is one of (if not the) finest war movies ever made. The carnage is not glorified, the scenes are relatively accurate the sound track is outstanding and “cause” is not a simple good vs evil. As I argued with Dr. H over Bridge Over the River Kwai, that movie in my opinion is a joke–showing these healthy clear skinned beautiful women in the jungle near our protagonists when in reality people were near starvation, ravaged by disease slave labor.

      BHD makes no claim to “idealize” or put battle into an “ivory tower” it is gritty and wanted to portray the battle as it unfolded. The book was even better.

      Yes my heart goes out to all of those people and I thank god that I do not have to live in such hellish conditions, but that does not take anything away from BHD. As a movie it is outstanding.


    • jpfmovies

      September 28, 2010 at 9:05 pm

      Oh yeah I am going to try and get my hands on the movie you suggested and if I can find it it will certainly get reviewed.


  9. Anonymous

    March 20, 2014 at 6:09 pm



    • jpfmovies

      March 31, 2014 at 2:05 am

      I could not have said it better my self!


    • jpfmovies

      May 15, 2014 at 7:44 am

      actually I just saw a 60 minutes documentary on Black Hawk down with never seen before footage of the actual battle as well as several of the Rangers and Delta force members (including Norm Hutton) one of three characters in the movie where he describes just how tough fighting was to get down to the bird. it was on YouTube so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it just typing keywords like 60 minutes and Black Hawk down and you’ll find the hour special.



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