The film I will be writing about is ‘Black Hawk Down’. Sir Ridley Scott The true story of the United States’ involvement in Somalia during an ill-fated humanitarian mission. On October 3, 1993, U.S. soldiers entered Somalia on an exercise that was supposed to take less than an hour. The mission turned into a nightlong battle against thousands of heavily armed Somalians. Eighteen U.S. soldiers and more than 500 Somalians were killed as a result of this conflict.
The scene I chose is scene 9, just as the U.S are entering Mogadishu. A steady shot is used at the opening of the scene. The shot is looking out from the side of one of the black hawks showing us the size of the fleet. This shot was used here because it not only shows us the fleet, but also shows the audience the city of Mogadishu below, from the soldiers view. Ambient sound is also used in the opening of this scene. As the fleet are descending into the city, I believe it to be somalian music which is being played in the background.
The music then fades as they land and is replaced by modern, sort of ‘military’ music. This I think is excellent as it shows us that the US are here and they mean business, and are dominating, which makes the somalians fear them. After this we see an establishing shot of the area. We see the whole area and streets with hundreds people flocking into buildings each side of the street as the Americans land. This is used to emphasise the Americans were feared. It also shows how overpopulated the place was, in one tiny street were hundreds of people.
A pan shot is used when the soldiers are deployed on the ground, and enter a building, where the wanted warlord is. We see the face and gun of the soldier running through the dusty street, then the camera turns, still with the soldier, but allows us to see where he is running to. This is used so that we can see that the soldiers mean business, also as the shot is a close up it shows us that their equipment is much more advanced than the rebels, such as helmets, goggles, advanced guns etc.
The mode of address becomes very clear as the men are deployed from the helicopters. Commands are used between the soldiers more often than not. In the helicopter, we see Josh Hartnett, in the role of a leader of some men, when ready to go he shouts ‘Ropes!’, then ‘Go, Go, Go!’ to his fellow soldiers. This mode of address is used to keep the film as realistic as possible, in the military you are always commanded to do things by higher ranks, never asked.
The following shot is a tracking shot and is very impressive. As the soldiers break entry to the building, we see them on a balcony facing in to a courtyard. As they run up the balcony, there is a tracked camera opposite, which moves with them. Also, the camera is behind the pillars supporting the handrail, which produces a very good effect. The use and position in this part of the scene is very well planned, and the effect worked very well.
As we cut back to the offices where the leader of the whole mission is, we get our first aerial shot. In the office we see the commanding officer, talking to a fellow soldier about the progress of the mission, then we get a view on his computer screen, which is a aerial shot of a big sector of the city, which the Americans were in. This shot shows us the actual size of the area, and how dense it was.
The first computer generated images are seen in this scene. As the last man is leaving the black hawk, a rocket propelled grenade is fired from a nearby building at them. The actual RPG itself is computer generated, which allows us a good close up of it, which would not be possible if it were real. As it is fired though, the helicopter makes a very sharp turn and dodges the RPG, this move is computer generated. The turn causes a man to fall as he is exiting. As he falls the body becomes computer generated, as is the spiralling dust caused that he falls into, caused by the helicopter. ‘we had to use computer generated images in some parts of the film purely as a safety measure, otherwise the whole cast would have to have been stuntmen’, -Ridley Scott. A rotational camera shot is now seen as Hartnett is by the fallen soldiers side.
As he checks the man down, the camera is circling the in a clockwise direction, whilst the dust caused by the helicopter is circling anti-clockwise, this creates a very impressive effect. Ambient sound is also used here. As the camera is circling them, we hear quiet, slow, mellow music, which helps to emphasise the sadness and drama of the fallen man, who is now dead. This part of the scene was really good, the way it was made was impressive, the ways that they emphasised the feelings of death in war.
When the slow music starts and the circling camera it slows the film down a lot, which forces the audience to pay attention. It is easy to see that the gender in this film was dominantly male. The only people in this scene are males, US and Somalians alike, a very clear dominance. Women are rarely seen, and when they are they are made out as weak and humble, whereas men are mighty and powerful. This is because , again, Scott tried to make this film as realistic as possible, and by having women in male roles would have spoiled the film.
Sound effects are used throughout the scene and throughout the film. The main sound effects used were the sounds of firing guns, explosions and nearby bullets whizzing past and hitting nearby objects. I think these effects were used to show that there was always danger around the corner, and to show that the soldiers had to be focused and ready at all times. There were only straight cuts in this scene. This was because in this scene there is a lot going on and straight cuts are the fastest way of changing whats on the screen to a different view. Also dissolves and wipes etc would not suit the film at all.
Pyrotechnics were first used in scene 10, just before they begin to move out with captured prisoners. Grimes (Ewan Macgregor) is told by fellow soldiers to get a move on and hurry up with them, as he runs from behind the cover of a parked up Hum-v an RPG is fired at him, narrowly missing, causing a large explosion and knocking him flying. this I think is a gradual build up for the audience about the kind of action etc that is yet to come in the film, also that the somalians were ruthless, and not afraid to use their weapons. Slow motion is very rare in this film, but in scene 20 we get a short shot of slow motion. During scene 20, 3 soldiers are heading to a rendevouz point.
As the last man goes to cross the street to the point, he is heard in the quiet streets by a rebel in a near building. As we see the rebel the sound cuts and we see a slow motion shot of him getting up to get his gun, in the background during this we can hear a faint heartbeat. I think this is really clever, its early morning, very little sound and it shows us how they just could not go to sleep or rest, because there is always someone waiting to kill them. The use of the slow-mo was really good also, with the heartbeat emphasising the situation.
The Mise-En-Scene in the film was very accurate. In an interview with Ridley Scott he tells us how he wanted to make this movie as realistic as possible, and not at all larger than life. Scott researched the film in great depth, also interviewed are soldiers from that day in Mogadishu, who of which the characters are based on, and they comment on how accurate the film was, and how surprised they were with the set, costume, props etc.
I thought the mise-en-scene was really impressive. To me, the set was fantastic. Seeing as though the film was shot in Morocco rather than Mogadishu, due to the safety element but they pulled of a really good job. No wipes are used in this film at all. This is because of the genre of film. Action films rarely have wipes due to them being highly unsuitable, and would make the film more comic than serious. As well as no wipes, there were no long takes. I think that long takes make audiences get bored, and for a film where something is always happening I think long takes would have not been suitable.