the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Esse Quam Videri -- To be, rather than to appear

Friday, June 02, 2006

Black Hawk Down

For the past year or so, I have been writing film and TV reviews at Here are synopsis' and links to those reviews.

I was struck, while re-watching Black Hawk Down this week, that this film is probably the most accurate glimpse into what it must be like to be a soldier on the streets on Baghdad. While fine films like Saving Private Ryan depict warfare at its worst, they do not depict warfare in modernity. I cannot imagine a better representation of war, with all of its urban complexities, than Black Hawk Down. Whatever you think of America’s involvement in Iraq, you cannot watch a film like this without feeling overwhelming concern and awe for our fighting forces abroad.

Based on the phenomenally successful book by the same name, Black Hawk Down is the true story of one of the Army’s most harrowing battles. While Somalia degraded into genocidal anarchy, a contingent of Army Rangers and elite Delta soldiers went into the capitol city of Mogadishu to arrest one of the country’s most dangerous warlords. What was supposed to be a short and simple mission spiraled into a desperate fight to stay alive when the Somalis managed to knock several Blackhawk assault helicopters from the air and strand a hundred men, woefully outnumbered, on the streets of one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

This is one of the finest war films in recent decades, a movie that treats war as horror and not simply entertainment. Like the battle itself, there are no single heroes in Black Hawk Down. We see the beleaguered Americans’ plight through each of the soldiers’ eyes, producing a rich composite of corporate honor, professionalism and bravery.

Director Ridley Scott, a Brit (as are half the actors playing Americans in Black Hawk Down!) helms this highly effective U.S. war film, which's plot, while complicated, never loses its audience, moves at breakneck speed, often reminds one of a documentary, and administers just the right amount of sentimentality to feel emotionally honest without being artificial. The result is an intense, draining, important and magnificent film.

To read the full review, click here.


Blogger brainhell said...

BHD was watered dwn and sanitized. The book was much harsher. Read it.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

I've heard that. Not so much that it was watered down, but that the book is an utterly engrossing read. I'll take your advice--thanks.

10:33 AM  

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