THROWBACK THURSDAY NICK CLEMENT ON BLACK HAWK DOWN
It was the film that reinvented modern combat pictures. The timing was poignant. The cast was amazing, like a who’s who of then upcoming talents. Script was trenchant and realistic, hard hitting stuff. Visually stunning, delivered by a Director Ridley Scott at the peak of his post GLADIATOR Hollywood power. Produced with passion and precision by JERRY BRUCKHEIMER. Even today, its stylistic and substantial legacy can be felt, be it on television drama or in upcoming films in a similar mode (see: MICHAEL BAY and the forthcoming 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI).
MOVIEVIRAL presents: NICK CLEMENT on RIDLEY SCOTT’S masterpiece, BLACK HAWK DOWN.
Black Hawk Down really was a tour de force for director Ridley Scott and his crew of technicians and actors. I’ve seen this film so many times it’s almost laughable, but revisiting it just recently, I was struck by just how immersive of a film experience this really is, with few rivals.
It’s the gold-standard for combat movies, and Scott’s uncompromising vision of urban warfare set precedents in the early 2000’s and has been constantly imitated ever since. Borrowing from cinematic touchstones like The Battle of Algiers and Saving Private Ryan, this was Jerry Bruckheimer’s stab at Oscar gold and he must’ve been livid when Scott was nominated for Best Director but the picture itself was short-changed in the top category.
It’s the rare Bruckheimer picture to be taken truly “seriously” by critics, and one of the few pictures in his entire filmography that strived for something more than just “entertainment.” Scott and Bruckheimer made sure to stick to the core of Mark Bowden’s riveting and devastating book, and in doing so, created one of the most visceral pieces of action filmmaking ever constructed.
It’s a physically exhausting movie to sit through, harrowing all throughout, with a constant sense of dread and impending violence. With stunning spatial clarity and obsessive technical finesse, Scott and cinematographer Slawomir Idziak created a gorgeous yet brutal film that pummeled the audience with a sense of sustained cinematic intensity that few other films have matched (Peter Berg’s recent Lone Survivor and portions of Randall Wallace’s We Were Soldiers come close).
I saw this film 10 times theatrically, a personal record for one movie. Granted, I saw it 5 nights in a row at my college campus theater (for free), but for me, this is one of the most exciting, most intensely realized portraits of warfare that’s ever been created.
I also had the chance to work on this film during pre-production during my days as an intern at Jerry Bruckheimer Films. I’ll never forget the sight of Bruckheimer, Scott, and Joe Roth doing laps around the Santa Monica compound, smoking cigars, talking about the film. I had the experience to hang out with production designer Arthur Max quite a bit, and Scott would come into the room and check out all of the models and boards and plans, deciding where the helicopters would land, etc. Totally wild.
An instant classic: at once of its time and timeless. I recommend BLACK HAWK DOWN heartily and without reservation. You will be challenged and stretched. But you will also be stimulated and inspired.
For Details about the Brave Regiment depicted in the film; inc recruitment queries see: http://www.benning.army.mil/tenant/75thRanger/recruiting.htm
After spending close to a decade working in Hollywood, Nick Clement has taken his passion for film and transitioned into a blogger and amateur reviewer, tackling old, new, and far flung titles without a care for his cerebral cortex. His latest venture: Podcasting Them Softly, finds him tackling new ground as an entertainment guru, and along with his spirited partner Frank Mengarelli, are attracting some diverse and exciting talent to their site. Some of Nick‘s favorite filmmakers include Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, David Fincher, Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick, and Billy Wilder, and he’s a huge proponent of the “31 Flavors of Cinema” school of thought. Favorite films include The Tree of Life, Goodfellas, Heat, Back to the Future, Fitzcarraldo, Zoolander, Babe, and Enter the Void.