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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 12/27/2001 4:11:55 AM EST
[size=4]'Black Hawk' Goes Where Hollywood Wary to Tread[/size=4] By Jill Serjeant LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The soldiers are mostly young, often scared, never "cool." There is no romance, no pretty nurse waiting tearily back at base. No swashbuckling hero arrives to save the day. And the grim, chaotic firefight offers no easy answers. After months of Hollywood soul-searching about the post-Sept. 11 future of entertainment, in thunders a powerful war movie that defies Tinseltown notions of patriotism, makes Rambo look like a cartoon cutout and redefines what it means to be a soldier. "Black Hawk Down" recreates in relentless, unsentimental detail the 15-hour battle of Oct. 3, 1993, that saw an elite group of U.S. forces pinned down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the bloodiest struggle for survival involving American soldiers since the Vietnam War. Eighteen soldiers were killed. It portrays close armed combat in a far-away country in all its bloody confusion and hits U.S. movie theaters on Friday, Dec. 28, just as thousands of American Marines and special forces are locked in a ground operation in Afghanistan. Had "Black Hawk Down," based on the book of the same name by U.S. journalist Mark Bowden, been made after Sept. 11, it might have resorted to flag-waving jingoism, escapist action adventure, or a vehicle for superstars Arnold Schwarzenegger or Tom Cruise. But the movie was completed in August, is ambiguous in its message, and has a largely unfamiliar cast of actors whose faces and egos are barely discernible beneath their military crew cuts and grimy helmets. Yet it is already being cited as a strong Oscar contender and is seen by some film critics as one of the most unforgettable movies about war. NO RAMBO, NO FLAG WAVING "Hollywood in my lifetime has always fallen back on cliches about the military ... (but) this is not a Rambo, shoot'em up, hop and chop adventure film," said retired Special Forces Col. Lee Van Arsdale, who took part in the 1993 Somalia mission and was one of several military advisors on the movie. As Hollywood moguls in September lurched between alternately postponing and promoting shows that served up terror as entertainment following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the producers and studio heads behind "Black Hawk Down" swiftly decided to bring forward the movie's release date from its original March 2002 slot. Director Ridley Scott said it was not a question of capitalizing on the patriotic fervor sweeping the nation but of the heightened relevance of what is essentially a universal story about combat and bravery. "The implications of the film started to emerge both before, during, and of course afterward," said Scott, a no-nonsense Briton. "I thought it was most relevant to bring it out now, when it is in people's minds, when it is at its strongest." "I don't want to give the audience any answers," Scott said. "I want them to go away and think, 'This isn't a movie movie.' [b]It's as near to the edge of a documentary as I could make it[/b]." - continued -
Link Posted: 12/27/2001 4:13:05 AM EST
Both the book and the movie are based on in-depth accounts by the Ranger and Delta forces who took part in the 1993 battle of Mogadishu and audio and video tapes recorded in the command center at the time. In a feuding Third World capital ruled by rival warlords and stricken by famine, what was planned as a one-hour mission by the elite force of 100 to seize a handful of clan members ended with two Black Hawk helicopters being shot down, 18 American deaths, 73 wounded and hundreds of Somali corpses in the streets. LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND The movie was shot in Morocco -- Somalia still being too anarchic a nation to host an international movie crew. The actors, including lead player Josh Hartnett, spent several weeks in military boot camps before shooting began and also met with some of the soldiers they were to portray. For both actors and soldiers, it proved a surprising experience. "I found myself overawed with a sense of responsibility to tell the story without showing off. Actors are all about showing off, but this time it was about getting ourselves out of the way and letting the story tell itself," said Jason Isaacs, a British actor who plays Ranger Captain Mike Steele. Arsdale said he was "half-way expecting something Hollywood -- effete liberals and all that. But these guys were fantastic. They were totally committed to getting it right." Getting it right, for the actors, meant stepping into the boots of soldiers whose motto "leave no man behind" became a creed that transcended their individual fears. "The movie is about heroism and bravery and the anatomy of battle, not the anatomy of personality which is the typical Hollywood fare. Ridley Scott said he wanted to make a movie about the foreground, not the background," said Tom Sizemore, who plays Lt. Col. Danny McKnight, the Ranger who went back into the fray repeatedly to try to save his men. "In a firefight, no one has a moment to look cool, to smoke a cigarette and say 'Hey! Look at me.' This is not a Hollywood movie. It is a very, very serious movie," Sizemore said. The battle of Mogadishu was portrayed at the time as a psychological and military disaster that had profound repercussions on U.S. policy for years over the wisdom of intervening in civil and ethnic conflicts far from home. Both the movie and the book seek to shed a different light, without preaching, at a time when U.S. soldiers are again fighting in a foreign land few could pinpoint on a map before Sept. 11. As one of the experienced Delta force soldiers tells an idealistic, nervous young Ranger just before all hell broke lose, "Once the first bullet goes past your head, politics goes out the window." Eric The('TwoThumbsUp')Hun[>]:)]
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