Film Review - Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down directed by Ridley Scott, soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer

Ridley Scott’s film Black Hawk Down is one of the bluntest imperialist propaganda coups since John Wayne strutted around in the comically jingoistic Green Berets, produced to justify the slaughter of millions of people in Vietnam.

However, this time Hollywood absorbs local culture into its range of tools used to sanctify the racist massacre of thousands during Washington¹s first post Gulf War attempt to enter Africa via strategically-important Somalia.

Black Hawk Down is beautifully presented and no expense is spared. This extends to the startling and original music, written by one of Hollywood’s best known composers Hans Zimmer, who ironically declares himself a pacifist.

Hollywood¹s finest has produced an incredible fusion of western and North African music combined with the peerless voice of Baaba Maal.

It succeeds in portraying the tension and fear, as a US helicopter is brought down in war-torn Mogadishu, as much as the film hides the reality of what actually happened on October 3 1993.

In one day US troops murdered thousands, including women and children, and, in true terrorist style, took a family hostage and threatened to kill them unless Somali militias backed off, none of which is portrayed in the film.

In fact, in the movie the only people who kill kids are, of course, the local black savages, who are only referred to by tough macho US rangers as ‘skinnies.’

This portrayal is not surprising given that no Somali, who actually witnessed the horror of US soldiers blindly strafing their neighbourhood, was actually asked what happened on that dreadful day.

In contrast, the soundtrack vividly uses African sounds to the extent that it reaches the foothills of what was achieved in the stunning and much more edifying classic The Battle of Algiers.

It employs a myriad of cultural signposts which seems to suggest that the US mission has the lowly African’s best interests at heart,  if they do as they are told.

The release of this deeply racist film was brought forward to last month, as the US declares war on anyone it chooses in the entire globe, and the film is already being shown in the same downtown Mogadishu that suffered so much.

Somalia is the next target for Washington¹s illegal aggression and its message is quite clear: resistance is futile.

All criticism of the film has been dismissed by producer Jerry Bruckheimer - who also produced the dire Pearl Harbour - in a revealing statement which harks back to the dark days of McCarthyism.

“A lot of people don’t like our military operations around the world, and it so happens it was a black nation. And they went after us for it. We certainly find some of the backstabbing in Hollywood about this picture.”

The final tragedy is Joe Strummer¹s rendition of The Minstrel Boy paying homage to the poet-warrior gone to fight, never to return. It is all a long way from The Clash’s anti-imperialist epic Sandinista.

“New” Western imperialism has not only annexed large parts of the left but is busy colonising third world and progressive culture and music to justify its growing and seemingly unquenchable blood-lust.

This brilliant soundtrack will win Oscars and it seems, for now, the devil is devouring the best tunes. That such beauty is created for such an enterprise is, indeed, a disgrace.

In a telling metaphor for the whole Black Hawk Down project, the inspiration behind Ewan McGregor’s war hero in the film is now serving a prison sentence for the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

The reviewer, Brain Denny, is foreign editor of the UK’s daily socialist newspaper, The Morning Star.