Some of the radio chatter in the film was taken from actual radio transmissions made during the battle.

The Black Hawk going down, spiralling as it crash-lands, was achieved largely through real, skillful flying of the helicopter, with some CGI augmentation. The minute it hits the ground, however, the rotors are computer-generated.

Nelson (Ewen Bremner) says to Twombly “Just don’t fire that thing so close to my head, I can barely hear as it is.” Bremner actually partially lost his hearing because of all the gunfire. He eventually recovered it.

On the last day of their week-long Army Ranger orientation at Fort Benning, the actors who played the Rangers received a letter that had been anonymously slipped under their door. The letter thanked them for all their hard work, and asked them to “tell our story true”, signed with the names of the Rangers who died in the Mogadishu firefight.

Spc. Grimes, played by Ewan McGregor, is a fictional character, though given his administrative position and penchant for coffee, he is unabashedly based on the real-life Ranger clerk Spc. John Stebbins, who was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the battle. However, Stebbins was convicted in 2000 for child molestation and is currently serving a 30-year prison term. As a result, the Pentagon apparently pressured screenwriters to alter his name in the film, although a spokeswoman for the film defended the change as “a creative decision made by the producers.”

The set was constantly bothered by stray dogs running into shots. Ridley Scott kept them in because he liked the authentic feel of their presence. Eight dogs were adopted by various members of the production and were eventually brought back to the US with them.

Eric Bana‘s US film debut. He found the experience to be an ultra-realistic one and said he frequently forgot that they were only making a film.

Josh Hartnett was cast largely at the suggestion of Jerry Bruckheimer, who had just worked with him on Pearl Harbor (2001). Hartnett was not overly keen on appearing in another blockbuster so soon after the film with Michael Bay, but the strength of the material and the opportunity of working with Ridley Scott soon persuaded him otherwise.

Tom Hardy‘s first feature film.

Master Sgt. Norman Hooten (Eric Bana) retired after a 20-year career in the army, joining the federal Air Marshal Service and then working as a contractor overseas. After this, concerned by the high rate of opoid addictions and suicides among returning vets, he studied medicine. Dr. Hooten is a full-time medical specialist at the Orlando VA Medical Center, focusing on PTSD and other combat-related disorders, as well as drug abuse.

The sequence of events near the end of the film, where some of the US Rangers were forced to run unprotected behind the rescue convoy, did indeed happen. This unfortunate turn of events was named by the soldiers after the battle as “The Mogadishu Mile”.

The photo of a wife and child that one of the soldiers is looking at is actually a photo of Eric Bana‘s wife and child. The props department forgot to take a photo of a wife and child with them, so asked Bana’s wife and child who were travelling with him if they could use a photo of them in the film.

All Black Hawks and Little Birds used during the filming were from the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) and most of the pilots were involved in the actual battle on 3-4 October 1993. A lot of the Army Rangers in the film were actual Rangers, serving with the 3/75 Ranger Regiment.

The opening sequence that depicts numerous starving Somalis actually utilises rubber bodies to represent the dying Africans. Some of the “bodies” had a hose inserted into them through which air was pumped to simulate the appearance of breathing.

Some of the scenes on the monitors behind Maj. Gen. Garrison are actual satellite images of the battle.

The scene depicting a soldier cut completely in half by an RPG is partially true. In reality his torso and legs were held together by his spine, and he survived unconscious for about two hours. In his commentary Ridley Scott opted to depict it as it is onscreen as he felt audiences would not be able to suspend their disbelief if it was shown as it happened.

The film features soldiers wearing helmets with their last names on them. Although this was an inaccuracy, Ridley Scott felt it was necessary to have the helmets to help the audience distinguish between the characters because they all look the same once the uniforms are on.

Forty of the actors who were playing Rangers were sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, to attend a two-week crash course in becoming Rangers. Fifteen actors playing Delta Force members were sent to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and were given a two-week Commando Course by members of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group. Ron Eldard went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and was given a lecture by several Little Bird and Black Hawk pilots, including Mike Durant, about flying and the battle.

According to “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, this film is shown to US Navy special forces recruits to inspire them before they begin the ‘Hell Week’ stage of their SEAL training.

The Department of Defence gave the producers a platoon of Army Rangers who did the fast rope scenes.

The scene where a US soldier falls out of the truck in the convoy was an outtake, but director Ridley Scott felt that it was funny and should be left in the film.

None of the film was shot in Somalia, and no Somali actors are included in the cast.

Ridley Scott offered Russell Crowe the role of Sgt. Norm “Hoot” Hooten, the Delta squad leader. However, Crowe had to turn down the role due to scheduling conflicts with Ron Howard‘s A Beautiful Mind (2001). Crowe, a huge fan of the film Chopper (2000), strongly recommended that Eric Bana take the role in his place.

Before the premiere of the film, it was screened for a VIP audience consisting of 160th SOAR, 5th Special Forces Group and Special Operations Soldiers at the 101st Airborne Division Ft. Campbell KY. VIP guests included Chief Warrent Officer Mike Durant, General Richard Cody (Commander of the 101st), and surviving Rangers and soldiers who had participated in the operation.

Eighteen soldiers lost their lives during the raid. The epilogue lists 19. Sixteen of the soldiers who died were Army Rangers and Delta Force members or Task Force 160 aircrew. There were also two soldiers, Pfc. James Martin from 2-14 Infantry and Sgt. Cornell Houston of the 41st Engineer Bn.–which was attached to the 2-14, 10th Mountain Div.–who died during the battles of 3/4 October. The combined task force of 2-14 along with members of the 41st Engineers were the Army unit sent in to rescue the Rangers. Matt Rierson, who is also in the list, died two days after the battle when Somali mortar-men bombarded the base (as they did every evening, usually to no effect). A Malaysian soldier and a Pakistani soldier who were part of the rescue convoy were also killed in the fighting.

Unlike Ridley Scott‘s previous film G.I. Jane (1997), this production received the full co-operation of the US military.

The donkey that Sgt. Ed Yurek briefly pets almost didn’t make it into the film because of budget cuts. In fact, during the rewriting and re-editing of the script, screenwriter Ken Nolan found a note by Ridley Scott saying, “I miss the donkey”. The donkey was eventually kept.

Captain Steele requests a panicked soldier to give anyone who comes through a door “two in the chest and one in the head”. This is commonly referred to as a triple tap or Mozambique drill. Mozambique was, during the 1960s and 1970s, a war- and famine-ravaged country much like Somalia. The reason for this is that there have been cases when enemy combatants have worn bullet-proof vests. While two in the chest might knock the wind out of someone wearing a vest and immobilise them for a minute or so, after which they might shoot back, the head shot makes certain that they do not get up.

A large number of the actors who played American soldiers are actually from different countries. The list includes: Ewan McGregor (Scottish), Eric Bana (Australian), Kim Coates (Canadian), Ioan Gruffudd (Welsh), Ewen Bremner (Scottish), Jason Isaacs (English), Zeljko Ivanek (Slovenian), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Danish), Tom Hardy (English), Matthew Marsden (English), Orlando Bloom (English) and Hugh Dancy (English).

The nickname given to the Somalis by the Rangers, “Skinnies,” does not actually refer to the famine and rampant malnutrition in Somalia. It is the nickname given to an alien race in Robert A. Heinlein‘s novel “Starship Troopers”, which was a popular book passed around the battalion, and is on the required reading list at West Point. The Rangers felt that Somali culture was so strange that they seemed to be from another planet. The “Skinnies” do not appear in the film version of Starship Troopers (1997).

A lot of the dust seen swirling around underneath the Black Hawks was computer generated. Real dust would have been too prevalent and would have obscured the action so the ground was dampened before filming to reduce the amount of dust.

Ben Foster had to drop out of the role as Cpl. James ‘Jamie’ Smith due to a serious injury sustained during basic training.

In order to keep the film at a manageable length, 100 key characters in the book were condensed down to 39.

Soldiers of the Royal Moroccan Army played Somali militiamen.

The documentary The Essence of Combat: Making ‘Black Hawk Down’ (2002) that appears on the DVD is actually longer than the film itself.

The massive shoot of the “target building insert” sequence was intended to be among the first sequences shot in principal photography, due to its complex nature. However, negotiations to borrow four Black Hawk helicopters from the United States military were so arduous that an agreement was not reached until a month after shooting had commenced. Director Ridley Scott had prepared a rental of four Hueys from Germany that were ready to be painted black and work as substitutes in the event an agreement with the US Department of Defense could not be reached. Fortunately, the DOD was eventually satisfied that the film would portray the incident in a positive light, and shipped the helicopters to the location in two C-5 Galaxy transports. Ridley Scott says this was very fortunate for the film, since the title is “Black Hawk Down” and Hueys have no resemblance to Black Hawks.

Mark Bowden, a staff reporter on the Philadelphia Inquirer, first detailed the disastrous 1993 Mogadishu raid in a serialised, 29-part story that appeared in the paper during November and December 1997. This was expanded into a book the following year.

Ridley Scott had to drop his original ending as he found it too pedantic and boring.

Two of the Black Hawk helicopters used in the film were named the “Armageddon” (after the film Armageddon (1998), film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) and the “Gladiator”, after the film Gladiator (2000), also directed by Ridley Scott. Bruckheimer believed this to be a sign of good luck.

Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the powerful Somali warlord who was the raid’s main target, died on 2nd August 1996. Major General William Garrison retired from the army the next day.

Despite the seemingly chaotic action, Ridley Scott kept to his method of storyboarding each shot in the film in advance.

Nineteen US soldiers died in the incident depicted in the film. The number of Somalis who died during the battle has been estimated between 500-2,000.

A team of Navy Seals also took part in The Battle of Mogadishu. They took up a single Humvee in Colonel McKnight’s convoy.

This is the second time Tom Sizemore plays a US Army Ranger. His first time was in Saving Private Ryan.

Captain Steel uses the word, “chalk”. A chalk is a group of soldiers assigned to a specific aircraft flight. The term came from the D-Day invasion, for which the flight numbers for the paratroopers or glider teams were written on each soldier’s back in chalk.

No women are credited in the cast list. Giannina Facio, who plays Shughart’s wife, picking up his phone call too late, was director Ridley Scott’s partner (they married 14 years later, in 2015).

Ridley Scott dedicated this film to the memory of his mother Elizabeth Scott. His brother Tony Scott did the same with Spy Game (2001).

When screenwriter Ken Nolan first read Mark Bowden‘s book, he was so determined to work on the film version that he called up the studio and said, “I’ll do anything, I’ll wash Jerry Bruckheimer‘s car”.

Originally slated to open on March 1, 2002. However, following successful test screenings in October 2001, that release was bumped up to January with special screenings arranged in December to help the film qualify for Academy Award consideration.

As the soldiers prepare to take off, Wolcott plays a version of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” in the helicopter. This version was performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan, who died in a helicopter crash.

Grimes can be seen using the same tactical vest as Delta operators, not the plate carrier that the Rangers used. This is because Grimes’ real-life counterpart, SPC John Stebbins was rotated in after soldiers were wounded, but there were no extra Ranger carriers, so he grabbed an extra vest from Delta.

Ridley Scott regards this movie as one of the films he’s most proud of in his entire career.

Although this was released to a wave of patriotic fervor, it was actually completed long before the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

The mission code word “Irene” is from the Greek word for “peace”.

Eighteen hours of combat is compressed into less than three hours of screen time.

This project was originally the idea of director Simon West, who urged producer Jerry Bruckheimer to obtain the rights to the book with a view to directing it himself. However, West felt pretty exhausted after working on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and he wanted to take a rest, so he dropped out. West later said that his decision was a mistake.

Despite the fact that Ken Nolan is the only credited writer, there were others who contributed uncredited. Sam Shepard wrote some pages of dialogue, but they were not used; Eric Roth wrote crucial speeches for Josh Hartnett and Eric Bana to deliver in the closing minutes; Steven Zaillian made a dialogue-driven rewrite; and Stephen Gaghan did one rewrite early on in the development. Nolan was the writer on the set for four months, and worked on the script for over two years. Prior to WGA arbitration, promotional materials for the film (such as theatrical posters) credited the screenplay to both Nolan and Zaillian. This was later changed to award sole credit to Nolan.

In Goffena’s helicopter there was actually a third sniper who stayed behind because a crew chief had been shot. Goffena’s black hawk was hit and took off some of Brad Halling’s leg (the sniper who stayed on the chopper).

This is the first collaboration between Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer. However, the producer also worked with Ridley’s brother Tony Scott on Top Gun (1986)Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)Days of Thunder (1990)Crimson Tide (1995)Enemy of the State (1998), and Deja Vu (2006).

There was no effort made to cast actors who looked like their real-life counterparts.

McKnight refers to the locals being hopped up on khat. Khat (also known as miraa) is a type of leaf with a long stem that acts as a stimulant when chewed. Most of the miraa coming into Somalia comes from Kenya. During the covid crisis the borders were closed but Somalis were willing to pay eight times as much for it when smuggled in by fishing boats. It is estimated that 40% of the Somali people are miraa users; a figure that is similar to what it was during the time depicted in this film.

The movie opens with a quote from Plato, “Only the dead have seen an end to war.” An earlier cut of the movie opened with a quote from T.S. Eliot: “All our ignorance brings us closer to death.”

Josh HartnettTom SizemoreEwen BremnerWilliam Fichtner and Kim Coates all previously worked together in another movie about war, Pearl Harbor (2001).

Disney passed on distributing this film because of its violent R rating. Its eventual distributor, Revolution, is run by ex-Disney studios chairman Joe Roth.

One of George W. Bush‘s favorite films.

While Ridley Scott was wrapping up post-production on Hannibal (2001), pre-production and location scouting were already underway for this film.

Ewan McGregor (Grimes) and Ewen Bremner (Nelson) previously worked together on the Scottish cult classic Trainspotting (1996).

The closing song ‘The Minstrel Boy’ was the work of famous Irish song writer Thomas Moore and rails against the contemporary slave trade of the 18th century. Moore served in the Admiralty whose Royal Navy squadrons combatted the East Africa Slave trade (Britain having abolished slavery in 1807), the centre of which was Mogadishu.

Brendan Sexton III (Kowalewski) was unhappy working on the film because it conflicted with his views on US foreign policy in general and specifically with regard to US actions in Somalia (both before and during the 1992-93 peacekeeping operations there). He told after the film opened that he and another actor improvised a scene with anti-imperialist materials, but it was all cut from the film before it was released.

Michael Madsen was offered the role of Danny McKnight but was forced to turn the role down because of scheduling conflicts with Big Apple (2001).

During the scene when SPC Nelson and SPC Twombly discuss whether the convoy has left without them, a close-up shot of SPC Nelson’s M60 machine gun clearly shows that the weapon is loaded with blank ammunition instead of live rounds (identifiable by the rose-petal crimp and violet paint on the tip of the casing).

Writer Ken Nolan‘s first experience on a movie set.

At the first crash site, a Little Bird helicopter, Star 4-1, lands to pick up survivors. The pilot that runs out to get the wounded Busch and the other operator is CW5 Keith Jones. For this film he’s reenacting the rescue that earned him a Silver Star Medal. Also, Jones’s co-pilot, CW3 Karl Maier, is shown firing his Mp-5 from the cockpit, which is did in real life.

In 2006 Cirio H. Santiago‘s action movie Operation Balikatan (2003), starring Christian Boeving, was released as a “Black Hawk Down” sequel in Taiwan.

When Mr Atto offers General Garrison a cigar saying “These are Cuban. Bolívar Belicoso”. Bolívar is a famous Cuban cigar manufacturer and “belicoso” is a cigar shape/wrapping style. This fellow apparently has money to “burn”. In 2020 prices the cost is just under $15 apiece.

Tom Hardy and Tom Guiry would appear together 14 years later in The Revenant (2015).

Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, and Jeremy Piven also appeared together in Heat (1995)

The song at the end of the movie trailer is “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” by Moby with Diane Charlemagne’s vocals.

A featurette on the Double Disc set is called “Battefield: Morocco”. At 21mins 57secs a camera is on a dolly track, moving right to left. Securly mounted onto of the camera is a consumer video camera. Perhaps to allow the crew to grab their own version of the shot. The movie was made using film, not digital cameras, so this could also have been an easy way for the cinematographer and others to review how the shot went immediately after.

The movies title (Black Hawk Down) doesn’t happen until 52 minutes into the film.

The mineral water bottles used for drinking and filling the canteens before the raid are of an Israeli manufacturer called “Mei Eden”

During the helicopter ride, one of the soldiers is seen reading a book shortly before they touch down. He is reading The Client by John Grisham.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Ewan McGregor starred in the Danish and American versions of Nightwatch respectively.

Simon West was the director but opted to drop out, because he was pretty exhausted after making Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). He remained an executive producer. West later said that the decision was a mistake.

Orlando Bloom and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau later collaborated with Ridley Scott in Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

When Grimes (played by Ewan MacGregor) is explaining the intricacies of making coffee, he is speaking to a fellow soldier named Sizemore. Tom Sizemore plays Colonel McKnight.

Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana later appeared in Troy (2004).

William Fichtner and Kim Coates go on to star in the crime series Crossing Lines together. Though Kim Coates had just a small supporting role.

Fictionalization of the real life events that were also the basis for Black Hawk Down (2006)Black Hawk Down (1997) and Black Hawk Down (2012).

Jermey Piven, Kim Coates and Bill Fitchner all appeared together in Entourage

Ioan Gruffudd and Hugh Dancy also appeared together in King Arthur (2004)

Sam Shepard (Garrison), Glenn Morshower (Matthews) and Enrique Murciano (Ruiz) also worked together on Bloodline (2015) as Robert Rayburn, Wayne Lowry & Marco Diaz respectively.


By Michael Kurcina

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for an agency within the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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