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Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers

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Black Hawk Down DVD – 2 Disc set (Amazon UK site) and We Were Soldiers DVD

I saw this film in March 2002 in California. This is what I wrote at the time:

I went to see Black Hawk Down last night. I saw We Were Soldiers a few days previously.

I disliked Black Hawk Down intensely and enjoyed We Were Soldiers.

Why? The two films are superficially similar. Both attempt to tell factually correct stories of parts of US history that aren’t exactly shining examples of how to do it right (especially when you let the politicians interfere after they have made the decision to go in). Both reconstruct battle scenes very well – too well if you’re squeamish.

I realise there are things that Black Hawk Down got very wrong, that We Were Soldiers did right.

Black Hawk Down: Failed to make me empathise with the characters. We know nothing about them and, for me, that made it hard for me to care about them. There was little background about the storyline, too. I’m sure many US citizens are aware of the facts – I suspect much of the rest of the world isn’t. They will be none the wiser for watching this movie. Frankly, I was left wonder why the movie was made and the violence seemed gratuitous.

We Were Soldiers: Gave the viewer lots of background about the men and their families, as well as about the beginnings of the Vietnam conflict. The viewer is able to care about the characters and what happens to them. A fascinating side story is that US units learning to use helicopters as airborne cavalry mounts for the first time.

So, I really disliked Black Hawk Down – I could hardly wait for the film to end. Interestingly, reviews of it seem spilt about 50/50 on the subject – which is how the group of four I went with were also spilt.

Lionel Mandrake

For a look at North America and world events from a British perspective, with a twist of humour for good measure, take a look at my own weblog, over at A Letter from the Olde Countrie.

Black Hawk Down DVD – 2 Disc set (Amazon UK site) and We Were Soldiers DVD

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About Lionel Mandrake

  • I have to agree with the assessment of Blackhawk Down. Nice FX and cinematography, that’s about all.

    One dimensional characters, no real sense of urgency or desperation when things went wrong, and far too long.

    I haven’t seen We Were Soldiers. I dislike Mel Gibson who has done too many English-as-bastard- at-all-cost-even-if-we-have-to-distort-the-truth-to-do-it movies for coincidence.

  • i liked black hawk down. i don’t think the goal was to build up the characters but to high light the tragedy of the mission. it wasn’t about the characters.

    in We Were Soldiers, it was all about the characters. the wives coffee they had in the begining was perfect. exactly how they are done. i laughed when i saw that. i thought mel did a ok job but there were parts where i wanted to scream because he was mucking it up. the scene where he was in the war and fighting and he said something like “there’s something wrong because it feels like nothings wrong” and with the goofy look on his face was not what an officer would have done or said at a time like that. i too wish they had found someone else to play that part besides mel.