© 2016 by James Clark
There are two ways to approach a Ridley Scott film. The first and most popular way is to engage each outing as a totally new venture under the aegis of a writer (or two, or more) never to be heard from again. This preference takes up a vehicle like Black Hawk Down (2001) as a patented Scott patina of highly accomplished cinematic mood in the service of vividly introducing us to the nuts-and bolts details and stresses of modern military action. The second and rarely considered way is to note that, though seldom acknowledged as a (sort of) ghost writer of every production he undertakes, his efforts all zoom to a consistent and rigorously developmental communicative sense of cosmic crisis. As such our film here does not in fact well jibe with indifference toward the ramifications of an al-Qaeda take-down of elite military aircrafts in the productive sweep peppered with the al-Qaeda take-down of the World Trade Centre.
How on its toes is the discursive flood of action propelling Black Hawk Down? An epigraph leads the way—an epigraph far more abusive to the unwary than any of the countless bloody ambushes to come! “Only the dead have seen the end of the war.” The statement is attributed to Plato. Plato, like hell! This little tweak of erudition derives from the philosophy-challenged, General Douglas MacArthur, trotting out an old soldier’s bromide about the huge stature of those in the military and finding it apt that a universally revered clear thinker would be onside. The true author of that reflection on war is a far less celebrated participant within the process of sharing lucidity. That idea, far less self-evident than the General imagined, derives from someone who did his work around 500BC, a hundred years before Plato “flourished” (in the vernacular of professional teachers of the subject of thinking, a métier invented by Plato). Concern for the endlessness of war was a major project for one Heraclitus, of the town of Ephesus (in what is now Turkey), one of his pronouncements being, “War is the father of all and the king of all. Some he has made gods and some men; some slaves and some free.” (more…)