Morgan Karwoski ENC 1102 Joseph Cottle February 1, 2013 Soldiers and Fear Fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc; the feeling or condition of being afraid. We see this emotion throughout the movie Black Hawk Down based on the true event, The Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. The United States military forces stepped into the civil war in Mogadishu, Somalia with intention to capture the leader, Mohamed Farrah Aidi who controlled all sources of food in his country using it against his people by starving them. The Delta Forces, Army Rangers, and 160th SOAR, the top soldiers in America, set forth to restore order and fairness to these innocent people of Eastern Africa. However, Aididâ€™s followers were ready to fight, which put the Americans in a battle zone of uncertainty. The voyage that was planned to last an hour dragged out for fifteen hours making more deaths and battle time than the Americans expected. Through imagery of this movie viewers observe what combat is like and see fear soldiers experience while they are at battle. The main source of worry began when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by the Somalia mitilia. The first helicopter crash opened the soldiersâ€™ eyes that this fight was more demanding than initiated; it was going to have to take more than they perceived. Black Hawk Down may be seen with the benefit of historical hindsight as a portrait of the fear of imperial overreach and failure as written through the psyche of elite U.S. soldiers.â€? (Dawson 177) Uncertainty of being successful with the capture of the Somalian leaders became questionable. The generals back at base had to rethink the situation and re-plan their voyage. The main concern after the first and especially second helicopter crash was getting their men back to safety. When I think of soldiers and war I fail to envision the ones arranging the voyage and the ones giving the
orders. It amazes me how they organize and teach these kinds of operations. I think it should be rewarded in our society more than it is because it takes great common sense and logic to construct something so serious and important, especially with many lives in danger. What they decide affects millions of people, the soldiers and the country, not only themselves. One thing stressed in this movie is that the United States forces do not leave anyone behind which meant the men alive or dead in the helicopters had to get evacuated. This exposed more soldiers to the war. Unfortunately this task was impossible for the second helicopter that crashed. It was difficult to find its location therefore more time was given to the Somalian mitilia to find it and invade it before help was there. When the American rescue arrived, which were only two men, Durant (actor)was the only one who survived the crash with a broken leg. They dragged him to safety and handed him a gun saying â€œgood luckâ€? because they had to retrieve the deceased from the crash as well. Intense imagery of terror was shown through Durant. He watched as the Somalian people took over the crash scene and killed his friends who just saved him. Unable to get up to get more ammo for his gun, he sat there knowing he was going to die and pulled out a picture. He calmly stares at his wife and son as sadness filled his eyes. This gives the viewer sympathy, making them feel heartache for the family because of their unexpected loss. We do not think about this but it happens whenever there is a battle. Soldiers pass away and loved ones have to cope with their death, without saying a real goodbye. Also, the family of Durant will have to deal in a different way because he was taken as prisoner of war. No one knows what really happened to him which is a horrendous thing to think. This gave the viewer a real sense of the gruesome tasks soldiers endure during their fight. Just because someone comes to save you, does not mean you will be saved. Our culture today seems to block information to the everyday people. For instance, society through school and the age of 2
adolescence(being too young to see the truth), made me think of war as people standing on different ends of land shooting each other… prisoners of war and the suffering soldiers experience does not run through my mind. I just think people should be informed more about these instances, even though they are not the best things to hear, it will help the citizens understand the tough times of the fighter so we can give them the respect and adulation they deserve. Scenes from this movie show the unexpected circumstances these men have to overcome by using their courage and strength to keep continuing on. The imagery in this movie does not need an explanation, it is extremely straight forward. The viewer should feel something the second they see it. Seeing others going through pain, especially when it is unfair, makes you feel the misery as well. During one scene some American army tanks got attacked on their way to rescue a group of soldiers hiding from the enemy in a building on the battle ground. While driving to the stranded soldiers’ destiny, a Somalian mitalia shot the windshield of a tank and glass shattered all over the driver. His partner yelled “keep your foot on the gas” because the man struck was unable to see. The passenger had no time to think; if they stopped they would get more injured or possibly killed. These men are trained for these kinds of situations. Another instance is when Tombly’s leg exploded while he was rescuing one of his impaired friends from the shootings. He began to bleed uncontrollably and the men knew they had to do something quick or they would lose him. They used their knowledge to figure out one of his arteries was punctured they began to perform surgery. Tombly appeared fine when it was finished and reached out and told his best friend to tell his parents he did his best, his friend replies “you will tell them yourself” but then, unfortunately Tombly stops breathing. Losing a friend is an extremely tough affair to handle, especially when there is no time to mourn. The soldiers have to 3
continue on fighting and make sure everyone is free from harm. Covered in dirt and blood these soldiers sat and waited for their rescue, hoping nothing worse would happen. Citizens back at home should feel nothing but respect for soldiers. The events they must go through does not compare to our everyday lives at home. It is not fair for them especially when they have to watch each other die. When the rescue comes there is not enough room for the survivors in the tanks. The deceased and injured took up the spaces meaning the soldiers alive must find their own way to safety. This pulls the viewer into the moving thinking something else is going to happen, however, they make it to safety, which is satisfying. They are so tired and worn you cannot see the happy expression on their faces but inside you know they could not feel more relieved. Toward the end of the movie we see pride shown through a character named Hoot. He just got into the safety zone and was able to come out of the battle but he decided to go back because there were more men out there. His explanation really shows why these men do what they do. He shared with Eversmann, one of his best friends why. “When I go back home and people ask, ‘Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? Why? You some kind of war junkie?’… I won’t say a god damn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. That it is about the men next to you and that’s it, that’s all it is” (Black Hawk Down). This line shows the connection and love these men have for one another. It shows they understand the inhumane situations of what their “brothers” are going through. They know they have to do the right thing, for themselves, their friends, and their country. “The mission and its moral purpose become clear: never leave a man behind.” (224 McGuigan). That is exactly what this movie exemplifies. We constantly see men going back to rescue and help each other. Even though it may be frightening these men know they must work together to achieve the task. Our culture does however show that it is important to not do everything for ourselves but for the sake of other 4
people. I think it is great that this was shown and detailed in the movie because it is very important; it shows the viewer they have reasons for being how they are. How they work together and make the best out of every situation is inspiring and makes me thankful for what they do. Instead of feeling glad or happy at the end, that the soldiers we have been following through the movie are safe, the viewer’s feel guilt and sadness. Through the soldiers eyes we look around and see all the injured and deceased. How everyone had blood and dirt covering them from head to toe. Everyone looked like they were going to drop dead to the floor. We see they were still afraid. Dawson describes this movie as “combat in hell” and “tragic” and that is true. The soldiers have to cope with the loss of their brothers but continue fighting for the right of their country. That is pure strength and endurance. What they do is extraordinary. It defiantly takes a special kind of person to do what these people do. The courage they must encounter is outrageous. I know this movie changed my perspective on war and the men behind them. In our culture today, people do not think of their soldiers as much as they should. Every time you look at the American flag you should be grateful to be living in this country and the men fighting for you behind the scenes. Culture should teach more about soldiers and combat so society is educated and able to appreciate the lives they live. “Black Hawk Down depicts men acting with courage and competence for survival, comrades, but ultimately for their own honor and self-respect.” (649 Showalter) These particular men are not given enough credit for what they do and I believe that is because our society tries to cover up the seriousness and struggles of battles. Fights are violent and cruel, something a lot of people do not like to think of or talk about, but this demeans the amount of respect and praise these people deserve. Soldiers live nightmares on the battle field and this should not be hidden 5
from society. A war is the â€œreal worldâ€™. Culture makes everything seem splendid and cheerful, but in reality not everything is so chipper. Truth in some situations is hidden for the best interest of the people, but sometimes it should be shown so people do not assume everything is perfect. Dreadful, bitter, cruel things happen and society should be aware that shit happens and things get tough and scary, but life goes on. Life is not about the happy times, it is about how you get through the hard times and struggles. Obviously it is acceptable that soldiers are afraid, it is human nature, but they do not let it stop them from fulfilling their burden. This is the main reason soldiers are heroes in my eyes. Nothing can stop them, not even fear.
Black Hawk Down. Director Ridley Scott. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer. USA Sony Pictures/Home Entertainment. 2001 DVD. Dawson, Ashley. "New World Disorder: Black Hawk Down And The Eclipse Of U.S. Military Humanitarianism In Africa." African Studies Review 54.2 (2011): 177-194. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. McGuincan, John. "On The Danger Of Heroes: Black Hawk Down's Transformation From Narrative Journalism To Cinematic Spectacle." Midwest Quarterly 52.3 (2011): 221-238. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. Showalter, D. "Imagery And Realism: The Two Faces Of Black Hawk Down." Diplomatic History 26.4 (2002): 649-651. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.