Black Hawk – Movie review
The movie titled ‘Black Hawk Down’ was released in 2001 and
directed by Ridley Scott. The movie is based on a book by US journalist and
writer Mark Bowden, which tells the story of a dangerous US military mission
deep inside Africa in 1993.
A total of 160 US special force soldiers are brought on a helicopter to Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu on a mission to capture two local militia leaders. The US force faces heavy resistance from Somali gunmen and an intense fighting leads to downing of two US Black Hawk helicopters carrying US soldiers. The movie then focuses on US mission’ efforts to reach the downed helicopters and rescue potential survivors from the wreckage. The US force sees the true face of civil war and its inevitable consequences.
In the background of the story is a famine in Somalia back in 1992. The United Nations and the US have sent troops to Somalia as part of a peacekeeping and humanitarian mission. After order was restored, US soldiers withdrew and left the control of the country to UN. However, shortly after the US withdrawal, UN forces and aid convoys came under attack by a local warlord named Muhammed Farah Aidid. In October, 1993, the US sent a special force to capture Aidi. Two US helicopters fell, killing 19 American soldiers after long hours of fighting.
1) What message does the movie give about the war? Is it either in favor of the USA or of USA military involvement in general, or of the American soldiers? Or none of this? Why?
The movie questions the role of the US in global peacemaking efforts. It raises the question in viewers’ minds if the US is doing the right thing by interfering in any region to resolve a crisis or to bring democracy or humanitarian help.
There is a black soldier in the US special force and this may try to show the US army is against racism. Also, the movie shows US soldiers as being careful not to shoot at women or children during the operation in Mogadishu.
The movie also questions the US foreign policy in a way that it shows some contradictions. In one scene, a Somali man asks a US soldier why he came to his country. The US soldier says he cannot speak for politicians. “Of course. You have the power to kill but not negotiate,” the Somali man responds.
2) What about the representation of the Somalis? Did you note any stereotype? In case you did, which? Are the “agency” (what they are fighting for) of the Somalis well represented?
In the movie, we see some Somalis in American t-shirts or similar dresses although they fight the US soldiers. This can be a sign of American imperialism in terms of affecting and shaping different cultures around the world. The movie does not show the reality of child soldiers in Somalia or women fighters. This is not the perfect representation of the civil war in the country.
3) What is the representation of the USA soldiers? Are they represented as “good” or “bad” guys? Why do you think so?
The movie depicts the US soldiers neither as good nor as bad. They are mostly shown as professional army personnel who believe it is their job to fight. However, the movie still shows some US soldiers do not believe this fight must be necessary. In one dialogue, one senior soldier argues that it is their job to stop the civil war and even genocide in Somalia. We see some soldiers around not agreeing with him. But they still keep fighting for their country and for their friends.