6 things you probably never knew about 'Black Hawk Down'

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A still from 'Black Hawk Down' (Sony Pictures)

The 2001 blockbuster Black Hawk Down is a favorite among service members and veterans alike. Depicting the 1993 raid to capture Mohamed Farah Aidid and subsequent Battle of Mogadishu, Black Hawk Down provided a pro-soldier narrative, a look into what happens when a mission goes wrong, and some straight up awesome action scenes.

Here are six things you didn't know about Black Hawk Down.


"Only the dead have seen an end to war."

The movie opens with a quote attributed to philosopher Plato. Gen. Douglas MacArthur first misquoted this phrase as being said by Plato, but it was actually written by George Santayana in his book, “The Life of Reason."

Bonus: An earlier cut of the movie opened with a quote from poet T.S. Eliot, which said, “All our ignorance brings us closer to death."

The fast rope scenes were real

The Department of Defense actually gave the producers a platoon of Army Rangers to perform the fast rope scenes. They also flew real helicopters in most scenes, not using computer-generated imagery except for crash sequences.

The aircraft used during the filming were from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and most of the pilots were involved in the actual battle in 1993. Many of the Army Rangers in the film were actual Rangers, serving with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

The movie's reception was influenced by 9/11

Although this movie was released shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the movie was actually completed long before. The outpouring of patriotism bolstered viewership, however. It also became one of the most culturally significant films released during George W. Bush's term in office.

The movie was based on a book

The movie is an adaptation of “Black Hawk Down," a book by Mark Bowden, based on a series of articles he published in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The 29-part series focused on 100 characters, 39 of whom were featured in the movie.

The actors went to boot camp

In order to maintain legitimacy, the actors playing Rangers participated in a crash, one-week Ranger-familiarization course at Fort Benning. The Delta Force actors took a two-week commando course from the 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg. Additionally, captured aviator Michael Durant spoke with Ron Eldard and the actors playing 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment helicopter pilots at Fort Campbell.

The characters wore personalized helmets

The film features soldiers wearing helmets with their last names on them. Although this was not accurate, director Ridley Scott used this device to help the audience distinguish between the characters because "they all look the same once the uniforms are on."

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