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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Black Hawk Dawn can be found here.
Yes. Black Hawk Down is based on true events that occurred in Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu (or Moqdishu) in October 1993. Starting in 1992, "Operation: Restore Hope" was the focus of major U.S. military operations in Somalia to supply aid and restore order to Somalia, which had been mired in civil war since 1991. The film is based on the particular mission which became know as the Battle of the Black Sea, (or the Battle Of Mogadishu) or, in Somalia, Ma-alinti Rangers (the Day of the Rangers). Most of the basis for the script came from Mark Bowden's book of the same title which gives a detailed account of the combat events and the lives of the soldiers involved. Although there was a considerable loss of life, the mission was deemed a success, as all mission objectives were accomplished. However, the incident caused a backlash in the U.S. and resulted in the U.S. and the UN, to pull out of Somalia in 1994 and 1995 respectively. After the U.S. withdrawal following this crisis, Somalia slipped further into anarchy and militia-rule. While Somalia's internationally recognized interim government has reasserted its control over Mogadishu in recent years, the country remains a hotbed of insurgent and extremist activity.
Todd Blackburn fell from the helicopter as depicted in the film; however, many experts chalk this up to his inexperience rather than incoming RPG fire, which was probably shown to make the moment more dramatic. Blackburn suffered serious injuries, although he recovered relatively quickly. He has no recollection of the events that occurred during the course of the battle or this film. Eversmann even says at the end of the film "I was talking to Blackburn the other day" (presumably after the battle by what he's talking about).
According to the book, which is more accurate and detailed than the film, the soldier who put the hand in his pouch doesn't know why he did it, and had no particular reason for doing it, he just did. It's basically another extension of the camaraderie of the men; how they are looking out for each other even when it makes no sense; and reinforces the gruesome chaos and carnage of the scenario. It's also possible that the soldier instinctively took it in case it could be re-attached to the soldier who lost it.
He dies of his wounds. He is not seen dying in the film. In the hospital when Captain Steele goes to visit him; Steele looks to the doctor, who shakes his head (suggesting that Ruiz won't make it.) He is listed as one of the 19 soldiers who were killed during the mission in the end credits.
According to the DVD commentary by some of the veterans of the mission, the dust kicked up by the choppers was too thick for the pilots to navigate through. As depicted in the film, the dust is thick but not nearly as much as it was in real life. Also, the top rotor of a Black Hawk is very wide and the space between buildings on the street probably was too narrow. Finally, as the veterans have said, there was much more debris and auto wreckage on the streets than shown, likely making it even tougher for a BH pilot to land or hover close to the ground. Such landings weren't as impossible for the smaller helicopters (the Little Birds), as we see in the film.
The pilots of the first Black Hawk shot down, Cliff Wolcott and his copilot, were wedged in the wrecked cockpit pretty tightly, and the crash had kicked up a lot of dirt, partially burying both of them. The guys doing the extraction had to cut the entire front end of the chopper apart around both bodies to get them out. With it being pretty dark out and with the Somali militia firing at them pretty much non-stop, the job took much longer than they'd anticipated.
It's standard practice to destroy remaining military equipment that can't be salvaged. They do this to mainly prevent enemies from salvaging parts to use against them or others or stealing any advanced technology. Thermite or plastic explosives are commonly used. There's a similar moment in Zero Dark Thirty.
Shugart and Gordon were killed when the Somalis overran the crash site - they were inserted to defend Mike Durant but ran out of ammunition. When they were overrun, their dead bodies were seized by the Somalis, beaten and were dragged through the streets - we only see a brief flash of that in the film. Eventually both bodies were recovered and sent back to the United States for burial. Both men were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism. Reinforcements were not sent to help Shugart and Gordon because the area was too dangerous and the top military commanders didn't want to risk losing any more choppers. In the film, General Garrison asks to speak to Shugart and Gordon directly to stress the point that they had no idea how long it would be until ground support arrived and asked them if they still wanted to go in. Both men said they did; and so Garrison left the decision up to Overlord, who agreed to put them in.
Bad intelligence about the streets in the Bakara Market section of Mogadishu and faulty communications between the convoy and those attempting to guide it as Harrell, one of the air observers, notes. The convoy was being directed by a spyplane flying overhead, but rather than communicating directly with Colonel McKnight their instructions first went to the Joint Operations Centre then the Command helicopter overhead. This meant that by the time the convoy got the order to turn it was past the correct point and had to reverse back under fire or would actually turn down the wrong street. Twice during the battle, the convoy drove past the first Black Hawk crash site. Also, the Somali militia were able to set up roadblocks very quickly and effectively. These roadblocks were more than sufficient to prevent Humvees from entering the city or getting near the crash sites.
He was held by the Somali militia for 11 days and released. His minder during this time was Mohammed Aidid's propaganda minister, Abdullahi "Firimbi" Hassan. Durant has stated that after his initial treatment by the Somalis that captured him, that he was treated well in captivity. He returned to the United States and continued his military service until 2001 when he retired.
After the first home video releases, Sony published an extended version on DVD and logically one has to decide between both versions. Thankfully, there's a comparison out there that may help you, because the extended version features several scenes that can be found as Deleted Scenes on the first DVD release and it's somehow questionable whether these extensions are useful or not. There are also some more action sequences. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.
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