Theme: "No one gets left behind"
Insights: Black Hawk Down is a film about death. This is established with the opening line from Plato, "Only the dead have seen an end to war." The figure seen wrapping a dead body in the beginning and carrying a dead child in the end is the personification of death. Mogadishu, Somalia is simply the land where death dwells; also known as a place called Hades. The reason there is very little "story" in this film is because death seeks to end all stories.
This film is a series of contrasts between two conflicting worlds: the world of death and the world of life, as symbolized by the UN Peacekeepers. The introduction to the movie sets the stage for the battle that erupts when life and light enter the abode of death.
"Years of warfare among tribal warlords"
|"When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come!' Then another horse came out, a fiery red one! Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword." |
"Warlords most powerful weapon -- hunger"
|"When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come!' I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures saying, 'A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!'"|
|"When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature say, 'Come!' I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth."|
Contrasts Between Two Conflicting Worlds
World of Life
World of Death
|Major General William Garrison - Watches over his men. Tells his men, "No one gets left behind" because every life matters. Wipes blood off the floor because every drop is precious
||Mr. Atto - Seems to know supernaturally what is taking place, "Get out of our civil war!" Profits by selling weapons used for killing 300,000 dead is "simply the shape of tomorrow"|
|Base - Food, fellowship, music, games, beauty of nature, life
||Mogadishu - Starvation, hostility, filth, ugliness of city, death|
|Order - Military rules
||Chaos1 - Gangs roaming streets|
|Two Rangers, Shughart & Gordon - Lay their lives down to go to the aid of the downed helicopter
||The people are being starved to death, so the warlords can profit|
|Every life is precious; every person, every body, every part; no one gets left behind
||Every life is expendable; war is a way of "life"; even women and children shoot to kill|
|Matt Eversmann - Seeks to make a difference; sees beauty and goodness
||Mohamed Farrah Adid - Proud, brutal warlord; profits and lives off of death and war|
|Eversmann with mortally wounded Smith - Words of kindness, goodness, love, and compassion
||Two Bedside Scenes
||Adid2 with pilot, Mike Durant - Words of war, killing, insult, and scorn|
|Frantically working to save one life (leg wound); even the dead bodies are treated with respect and dignity
||Genocide: 300,000 dead; dead bodies cover the landscape|
|The Stadium - Light, water, peaceful, clean, safe
||Bakara Market: Filth, darkness, confusion, fear, waterless, burning|
This film has a powerful ending, as the running soldiers seek to escape by keeping up with the UN convoy. Death surrounds them, as they fight their way out of this hellish place. Smoke covers everything. Suddenly, there are children smiling and clapping; gates open. The men have reached a place of safety. The Stadium is only a short distance from Bakara Market, yet it is a world away. The scene of the men receiving glasses of water is so powerful, in that light and water signify life. They have spent a dark night in a waterless world; only a few hours in time, and yet an eternity for those who were there3.
These concluding scenes are a visual picture of men escaping death and Hades. The reason these scenes grip us so powerfully is because we are all running to escape death and Hades. "No one gets left behind" is the heart of the Father; "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9). For this reason He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16), Who alone holds the keys to death and Hades (Revelation 1:18).
1. Chaos: When the men descend the ropes from the helicopters, it looks as if they are descending into total chaos.
2. In this scene, it is not clear whether this is actually Adid or one of his lieutenants
3. The mission begins at 3:00pm and ends at 5:45pm as the convoy moves out for the Stadium.