Longhand draft 30 March 2003, edited 25 July 2010.
Over my traditional Easter break in 2003 I fed my somewhat prodigious appetite for war movies with an armful of DVD rentals, offering some pretty spectacular ventures into mayhem served up by the Hollywood machine.
Blackhawk Down was one of those films. Unlike the others, though, it gave me pause.
The film fictionalises the real events surrounding a US attempt to kidnap senior advisors to local warlord and self-proclaimed Somali leader Mohamed Farah Aidid during the UN peacekeeping presence in Somalia in 1993.
On 13 October that year, 140 US soldiers abseiled from combat helicopters into the infamous Bakara Market district in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, to carry out the kidnap, which succeeded but resulted in two Black Hawk helicopters being shot down by rocket propelled grenades, and an escalating series of manoeuvres to rescue pilots and troops pinned down by murderous gunfire from thousands of Somali militia.
I remember being mesmerised back in 1993 by the TV news actuality of dead, bare-footed, shirtless American soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by their heels at the conclusion of the action, which lasted 18 hours and resulted in 18 US fatalities, more than 70 wounded, and an unknown number of Somali casualties, said, at the end of the film, to have included more than 1000 dead.