Courage, honor, insanity, sadness, anger and fear are all themes that were addressed in this film as well and they took me through a gamut of emotions. The impeccable direction by Ridley Scott also contributed in making this movie a ridiculously gripping one. Scott managed to inject the film with high moments of tension and anxiety while making the “all over the map” physical conflict clear for us on a visual standpoint. The images served up were, at times, poetic/artsy and at other times, gritty and real. Tag to that, a brilliant use of filters by cinematographer Slavomir Idziak and a strong score by Hans Zimmer that both upped the juice of the images and events at hand, and you get an arresting visual and audio treat.
Some argued that the film was redundant, but I never felt that myself. Others said that the script didn’t sport enough character exposition, but I was given enough meat about the men to genuinely care and the talent/charisma of the actors playing them gapped what could’ve been missing on paper even further. I felt for these guys hardcore and that upped the stakes of the action 100 fold. Having said that, the stellar cast should also be commended in making the film a more involving ride with Hartnett and Bana owning the most here. BLACK HAWK DOWN is an extremely powerful piece of filmmaking that simply knocked me out. You don’t simply watch this flick...you live it!
Commentary with Director/Producer Ridley Scott and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer: This full length commentary track gives us lots of historical background on the events and addresses the substance that specific shots and pieces of music wanted to communicate. We also get some insight on the peculiarities of the ethnic cast, the hardships of telling a tight story with such a high number of characters and much, much, much, more info. An overall involving and info-filled track.
Commentary with author Mark Bowden and screenwriter Ken Noland: Here, the author of the book on which the film is based speaks about what triggered his need to tell this story while screenwriter Ken Noland comes in to speak about what led him to adapt the book in screenplay form. They also comment on the film’s content, specific scenes, shots, script/book differences and more. Another insightful track.
Commentary with Task Force ranger veterans: Retired military officers come in to give us background as to their involvement in the Somalia massacre and go on to compare the elements in the film to those which really occurred. Very interesting from a history versus film point of view.
We also get Cast and Crew Filmographies.
The Essence of Combat- Making of Black Hawk Down (~ 2 1/2 hours): Here, we get 6 lengthy and tightly put together featurettes that we can either play all at the same time or individually. They cover the Story and Characters / Military Orientation / On Location / Film Score / Visual Effects and Final Thoughts. With over two hours of features, trust me when I say that these features are incredibly informative from a historical and cinematic standpoint with lots of input from cast and crew to boot. Damn!
Image and Design offers 7 features that we can only play individually. They are:
Designing Mogadishu (15 Minutes) where we see design art while the Production designer comes in to talk locations
Production Design Archive where we get to view a series of sketches for the movie’s locations
Storyboards (7 Minutes) the name says it all.
Ridelygrams (7 Minutes) gives a look at Ridley’s storyboards which can also be compared with the scenes in question while a narrator (Sylvain Despretz) gives us some history on Ridley Scott.
Jerry Bruckheimer’s BHD Photo album (6 minutes) where we see Jerry on set with his camera, then his pictures while he narrates what the pics are about
Photo Galleries and Title Design Explorations (3 Minutes) which is basically a montage of the title designs they tried out for the opening of the film (with optional commentary with insightful graphic designer Flavio Campagna)
We also get 20 minutes of potent Deleted and Alternate Scenes that can be played with an informative and trivia-filled optional Ridley Scott commentary track. We can only play the deleted scenes as one feature-- they are not titled individually. Strange
Historical Archive: Here we get two features-- The True Story of Black Hawk Down (~ 100 minutes) courtesy of the History Channel and Ambush in Mogadishu (~ 60 minutes) courtesy of PBS. Take out your notebooks kids, time to lean some American History.
Target Building insertion (Multi-Angle sequence): Here we get to view one sequence (involving helicopters) via 7 separate camera angles. We can either view them with the production sound playing or a commentary by AD Terry Needham. A fascinating feature with great technical insight by Needham that should appeal to all an aspiring filmmakers.
Q&A Forums: This feature includes three press conferences; the first being Batta (~ 10 minutes) with Ridley Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer, Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Jason Isaacs, Mark Bowden and Tom Matthews answering questions from journalists and crowd. The second is named Motion Picture Editor’s Guild (~ 10 minutes) where Editor Pietro Soallia takes the stage after a screening of the film to talk shop and the third is called American Cinematheque (~ 12 minutes) where Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer answer questions from the crowd. This feature is a perfect companion piece to the previous extras where some questions that might not have been answered via the features are addressed here. Solid.
Promotion: A wide assortment of Trailers and TV spots for the film with a music video (Gortoz A Ran- “J’Attends”) tossed in for good measure.