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The Essence of Combat: Making 'Black Hawk Down' (2002)

Video  -  Documentary  -  3 June 2003 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 171 users  
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Nearly every possible element to making the film Black Hawk Down (2001) is examined here in great detail. Both behind the scenes material and interviews with the cast, crew and actual rangers inform us how this film was pulled off so perfectly.

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Title: The Essence of Combat: Making 'Black Hawk Down' (Video 2002)

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Cast

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Lee Van Arsdale ...
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Brian Bean ...
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Mark Bowden ...
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Tim Burke ...
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Bill Butler ...
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John Collett ...
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Storyline

Nearly every possible element to making the film Black Hawk Down (2001) is examined here in great detail. Both behind the scenes material and interviews with the cast, crew and actual rangers inform us how this film was pulled off so perfectly. Written by Rhyl Donnelly

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3 June 2003 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This feature-length documentary is featured on the 3-disc Special Edition DVD for Black Hawk Down (2001), released in June 2003. See more »

Goofs

In Tom Sizemore's last interview segment the boom nearly hits his head. See more »

Quotes

[About Ridley Scott]
Eric Bana: There isn't a man in the world who could be under so much pressure and look so calm. I don't know what pills he takes or what kind of yoga he does or what his secret is, but it doesn't make sense to me. I look at him and he's the most relaxed person on the set.
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Connections

References Money for Nothing (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting collection of solid featurettes but has all the same problems as the film
19 January 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

On the Black Hawk Down dvd is a collection of featurettes under the banner title of this title. The individual documentaries cover the whole process of creating the film, from the original book and it's adaptation for the screen, the training of the cast from knowing nothing to having to act as real soldiers. The Moroccan shoot and the addition of score and digital effects are also covered.

Having watched the film, I decided to spend a few hours watching the documentary. Although it is a collection of smaller documentaries, this film is still a very good addition and is an example to other dvd's of the level of extras that should be on disks. The film covers the whole scope of stuff involved in making the movie and it is pretty interesting yet failed to really grip me or have me nodding in wonder. The usual stuff is all there - the cast get trained, the filming is difficult but eye opening, the music grows with the material and the effects merge seamlessly. All the way through the film the cast and crew are full of respect for the real soldiers, and rightly so, however I would have liked to hear more personal things rather than quite generic sound bites.

Some of the cast talk about their emotions playing the real characters and thinking of what it was like to be in there, but most don't say anything somebody else wouldn't have said. Where was the specific stories? Where was the insight into the material? It was only in the final 15 minutes where stuff got interesting. It started with the writer Mark Bowden calling the mission a `failure' and pointing out (pre-Iraq and Afghanistan) that Americans know now that they can't `change the politics of a small country by military might' and also saying `we cannot use our military might to change the world into an image of what WE think it should be.' I was amazed to hear him say this simply because nobody else had had a critical or insightful word in their mouths for over two hours! Also it was clear that the film had no scope for criticism or comment - Scott is very clear about the fact that he had lengthy and difficult negotiations with the military about the film before they would let him have the helicopters he needed; however he is also notably silent about the specifics of that arrangement!

Following this statement, the editors seem to let control go a little because there are several comments that the military wouldn't have liked. One actor states he hates war and is against it unless a last resort (ie - not pre-emptive). The Fincher follows it up by stating that Somalis are not bad people (a fact the film had not recognised) and Piven understanding why they attacked the US - `if people came into your backyard, you'd react the same way.' One of the cast even goes on to say that this event caused the US to lose it's stomach for war and thus sit out while the action in Rwanda etc went on.

The cast pushing the idea that the film is an antiwar movie is a little thin (Scott is weakest `I think every war movie is an antiwar movie' - er, no!) and this is all the time such sentiments are given. In this regard the documentary has the same failings of the film - it is US focused. No section of the documentary is given over to the background of Somalia, no part of it was given over to Somalia recollections of that day (even though it was claimed they were involved). Likewise the section on the writing deals with why they combined some US characters but never even acknowledges the fact that soldiers of other nations were heavily involved in the fighting and main rescue mission. Also it was very disappointing that the subject of the actual raid was never broached to an interesting level - `it was a success' is the military's chant; even being the last line of this film; but most military commentators called it a fiasco at the time and the US was criticised for launching this raid alone without telling others but then needing help out.

Overall this is a really long documentary that I am loathe to criticise because it is a good example of what I look for in a dvd - cast and crew involvement, long running time, reasonable detail. However the fact that it seems to toe the same party line as the film was a problem and nothing sensational really come out of it. It is well done and interesting but I would have liked the flag waving to have stopped for a while. McGregor's comment `war is sh*t' is true, but I very much would have liked a fair look at the real events rather than 60 minutes of cast training, special effects and score development.


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