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New Black Hawk Down Deluxe DVD Coming in June

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The Digital Bits Website has the details on the new edition, which sounds like quite an improvement over the earlier rushed-to-the-rental market movie only disc:

We have final details and artwork on Columbia TriStar’s 3-disc Black Hawk Down: Deluxe Edition (street date 6/3, SRP $39.95). Disc One will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Ridley Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, a second audio commentary with U.S. Special Forces Veterans of the real battle, a third audio commentary with author Mark Bowden and screenwriter Ken Nolan, and filmographies.

Disc Two will include The Essense of Combat: Making Black Hawk Down documentary (including Getting it Right, Crash Course, Battlefield: Morocco, Hymn to the Fallen, Digital Warriors and After Action Report), 8 deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary, a production design archive, storyboards with optional commentary, “Ridleygrams” with optional commentary, Jerry Bruckheimer’s Black Hawk Down photo album, opening title explorations and photo galleries.

Disc Three will include The History Channel Presents: The True Story of Black Hawk Down documentary, the PBS Presents: Frontline: Ambush in Mogadishu feature, and interactive mission map/timeline, Target Building Insertion (a multi-angle sequence with optional commentary), BAFTA Q&A Forums (with Ridley Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer, Josh Hartnett, Ewen McGregor, Jason Isaaca, Mark Bowden and Tom Matthews), Motion Pictures Editor’s Guild – Pietro Scalia, American Cinematheque – Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott, the Gortoz A Ran – J’Attends music video performed by Denez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard, theatrical poster explorations and theatrical trailers.

The bonus material helps to restore one of the film’s most significant shortcomings: in its goal to be as riviting an action movie as possible, there’s a distinct lack of information and perspective concerning the geopolitics of the situation portrayed. As I wrote after seeing the film for second time in the theater in March of last year:

I saw Black Hawk Down with a couple of friends and my wife on Sunday night. I had seen it previously, when it first came out, and loved it. I was surprised when the reaction of the rest of my group ranged between anger and indifference. One friend was angered because of the film’s story (our incursion into Somalia, and how our failure there lead to an effectively neutered foreign policy, and our weakened stance to the rest of the world, especially the folks in the Middle East. My wife was confused by the ambiguous, sort of hyper-documentary style of the film.

In a way, our disparity of views was shared by the critics themselves. Roger Ebert loved it. But over in National Review Online, John Podhoretz hated it, and Rich Lowry felt obliged to counterpunch. It didn’t help of course, that the Last Outpost-like theater we saw it had a lousy sound system (and a badly scratched print). The line that Sam Shepard, as General Garrison, says about “Washington, in its infinite wisdom, denied us the use tanks and an AC-130 Specter Gunship” was said so quickly, and not elaborated on, that the significance of it was easy to miss. When I showed her an article on what exactly an AC-130 is, she replied, “oh, now that would have been nice to have!”. No kidding. But as Podhoretz writes:

we cannot understand why Americans are in Somalia or why it’s important to be watching the movie. Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer salute the bravery of the soldiers, which is funny, because they’re both cowards. They can’t bear to face the fact that the proximate cause for the disasters that befell the Americans that day in Somalia – and the horrifying consequences to America and the West in the quick pullout that followed – are due entirely to Hollywood’s hero, Bill Clinton.

Oh, they know it. But they won’t say it. And that tentativeness is one of the causes for the failure of Black Hawk Down to do much besides make you feel ill.

On the other hand, I loved it – when I saw it in February, I immediately ran out and bought Mark Bowden’s book. (The Brothers Judd has a review of the book, and some excellent links afterwards, by the way). The book does a far better job of explaining the geopolitics and the impact of our disaster in Somalia, but the film itself is (to me at least – your mileage may vary, as witnessed by the rest of my gang last night) is a powerful, visceral look at the horrors of modern battle, and an huge, ringing endorsement of Colin Powell’s doctrine of overwhelming force.

Unfortunately, Amazon is still listing the movie-only version of the DVD. We’ll try to update this page when the new version is listed.

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About Ed Driscoll

  • san

    Did you miss the part where we lost those men in an operation that was carried on outside the UN guidelines for our presence in the region?

  • Rob

    Considering that the UN was not willing to protect its peacekeepers against the militias, maybe those guidelines needed some revision.

  • san

    What was notable — again, from the movie, not necessarily a valid source — was that our military command followed U.N. directive not to engage the militias when they were threatening Somalian noncombatants, but went right ahead with U.N.-banned operations that suited their own interests.

  • Rob

    The UN was willing to treat a symptom, the starvation of Somalis due to militia raiding, and not the cause, the maneuvering of Aidid and other warlords to gain control over Mogadishu and allof Somalia. Sure, the U.S. could have backed Aidid and allowed him to take control of Mogadishu, and also the profits he would extort from the UN aid program officials. The U.S. chose not to do so, it was hardly in our own interests. Why do you think we were hunting Aidid and others in the first place?