Black Hawk Down-- "Leave No Man Behind"

Sort of a rant, but not really.

I watched this movie against my will last night (I don’t particularly like war movies) and one thing really, really bothered me about it. I remember when the movie came out. It was praised for its accuracy inasmuch as an action war movie can be accurate.

Sam Shepard who played Maj Gen Garrison repeated the phrase “No one gets left behind.” several times. The tagline for the movie was Leave No Man Behind. But 3 quarters of the way through the movie I bugged my husband incessantly about the pilot that everyone seemed to forget.

What the hell happened to Ron Eldard’s character, Officer Durant? The last we see he’s all beat up in some Somalian militiaman’s house. In almost the next scene Tom Sizemore’s character is cutting a dead body out of the rubble while the Maj Gen is drilling “leave no one behind-- dead or alive” into his headphone.

This bothered me so much I looked up Officer Michael Durant on the net. Well hello! They left him behind! He was a POW for 11 days. This is out and out misrepresentation and I want my money back!

Since they did not know where he was, they could not just go and get him. They did send helicopters ouver the city broadcasting on a loudspeaker that they have not forgotten him and they are looking for him.

IIRC from the book, Clinton made a show of force and said “Release him, or else. Just give us back our guy, we’ll stay long enough to save face, then we’ll leave.” The Somalians agreed to it.

So in the end, we didn’t leave Durant behind. We got him back.

It does say at the end of the movie that he was released after 11 days of captivity.

My beef is not with the actual events, just the way they were portrayed in the movie. The movie made it seem as if the UN forces went in and got all the guys out and “left no man behind”. Especially with that helicopter loudspeaker shot, then cut to the Gen saying, yet again, “leave no man behind” and the convoy driving in with the leader of the 1st Mountain making a point of yelling at his men to “make room! Everyone gets in the truck!”

The helicopter shot was before the convoy. The helicopter’s loudspeaker says “We haven’t forgot you, we are coming for you Officer Durant!” But they didn’t come for him, even though the movie makers deliberately left that impression.

Yeah! That little, bitty print that Houseman had to walk up to the screen to read and still didn’t catch it all. Why the little bitty words? That drove me nuts! Nuts enough to tell my son to pick up the DVD just so I could read the end narrative!
I have no complaints about the movie (I’m lying here. It was hard to keep all the characters straight and to figure out who was where. It wasn’t until the very end when the Gen said something like “We’ll have 100 dead bodies if we don’t do something right now!” that I understood just how many soldiers where trapped in the city. I thought they all got out in the first convoy out-- the one headed by Tom Sizemore-- except for the main characters at the two crash sites and that warehouse thingy), it’s the movie’s seemingly deliberate obscuring of the actual events that I’m complaining about.

Remember, at the end of the movie, the Delta guys were gearing up to go back out because “there are men still out there”…

Well, when compressing a 15 hr firefight into a 2-hour movie, adding a storyline and dialog between 40 characters, one must exercise a bit of creative license.

Read the book. It is well-written and will really clear up a lot. Especially the whereabouts and movements of each group of soldiers. I actually found the movie a bit confusing too, even after having read the book. World Eater is right on in that it’s just too much activity to condense to 2 hrs.

Actually, if it makes you feel any better, The book doesn’t make it that much easier to tell them apart. The characters are developed more, but

As for the movie itself being confusing, I think that was partly the point. They were trapped in a strange city that had few if any street signs, they didn’t know the way around on the ground, the somalis were setting up roadblocks and last of all, there were lots of people shooting at them. When the convoy went to the crash site, it got lost for hours, driving past the crash site twice before finally going back to base. The guy on the ground often doesn’t know what’s going on. That puts the audience in the same shoes, so to speak.

On another note, anyone know why the main Delta guy(William Fichter) wasn’t Paul Howe? In the book, Bowden talks about him extensively (probably because he’s the only one who would speak on record). Did he not give permission to use his name or something?

The book is also online.

One of the soldiers, and “Howe” doesn’t sound familiar, was not in the movie because he’s currently in prison for child molestation. I don’t remember which one it is.

It’s the soldier Ewan MacGregor’s character was based on. Also, at least one of the soldiers who was on that raid served as a consultant to the film.

I can understand leaving out an accused child molestor, the movie wasn’t about that. What bothered me was that Ridley Scott touted the movie as “not quite a documentary” (I can find a cite, but please don’t make me.) and then misrepresented what actually happened.

There are no scenes of Officer Durant being rescued by the UN troops so the director didn’t exactly lie, but it sure felt as if he wanted the audience to think that’s what happened.

The scroll at the end does tell what happened, by the way. but I don’t know how anybody could read it all without a DVD or VCR.

Now don’t get me wrong. I liked the movie. It was gripping and emotional. It got me caught up in it and I really didn’t want to watch it. And it did make me get on my computer to look all this up. Prior to watching this movie all I knew was that 20 soldiers by angry Somolians. I distinctly remember the crowds dragging one body around in the street.

It’s just that I think the director gave into the “feel good” trap and fudged when there was no need to.

Biggirl, how did Scott misrepresent what actually happened? I mean, it’s not like he showed all of our guys walking out of there unhurt. The movie’s over two hours long as it is, theater owners get cranky when a movie gets to be that long. Besides, what would scenes showing Durant being released have added to the movie? Also, how big’s your TV? I can read the scroll just fine on mine.

What I’m wondering about, now that I think about it, is the general’s retirement. When I first saw the movie in the theater, I merely assumed that the general stayed on active duty hoping that he’d get another chance to go after the warlord, now I’m wondering if he wasn’t heading up some kind of covert ops with the mission to kill the warlord and when that was accomplished, he retired. Anyone know what the general did after we pulled out of Somalia? (I realize that we wouldn’t know for certain if he was running a covert ops mission, but if he’d been reassigned to the motorpool, I’d say we could effectively rule out any covert ops jobs.)


It was the very sly way that the movie implied Durant was rescued with everyone else. The shot of the helicopter and the loudspeaker announcing “We haven’t forgot you Officer Durant. We are coming to get you!” Immediately followed by the UN troops fighting into the city, which was then immediately followed by the General stating emphatically “We bring EVERYBODY out, dead or alive.” And after that, the Delta guy telling the young ranger "I’m going back because our men are still in there. That’s why we do this. " The movie’s tagline is: No one gets left behind. Even my husband, who followed the story closely when it happened, was confused. As the credit rolled and I asked (again annoyingly) “What happened to Durant?” He answered, “They got him out— I think.”

He had to actually think back and disengage from the movie before he said, “No wait, maybe they didn’t.”-- and that’s what started the internet search for information.


Hehe. Hubby said exactly the same thing. As for the scroll at the end-- I have a 20" in the bedroom and I had to literally walk up to the screen and put my nose to it to see it. The superfast scroll didn’t help, but that could have been the station and not the movie.

I don’t remember the movie showing this but I think there were two other guys that didn’t get out either… the two Delta that were killed when they volunteered to come in and protect Durant. I get teary-eyed when I think about Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon. At least one of them was dragged through the street after being overrun by the mob. Maybe it was in the movie and I missed it but weren’t one or both of them left behind?

The movie was a bit watered down, but I never got the impression that Durant was rescued by force. If he had been, that would have been the hilight of the film. I think that they DIDN’T leave him behind. They stayed in the fight until he was released. It may not have happened that day, but I’d bet that all of the Delta boys would have killed everyone in Mogadishu to get that guy back. I think it is a matter of form.

(I believe that No Man Left Behind is actually one of those special ops/military buzz phrases. I don’t think it was concocted by Bruckheimer.)

lieu, they did show those two coming back for Durant and being descended on by the mob. The being dragged through the streets part was not shown.

Officer Durant was released after negotiations between the warlord and the Clinton administration. The Delta force (or anybody else) did not stay and fight for him.

Leave No Man Behind was the film’s tagline and was used extensively by the producer and director througout advertisments and the movie itself. I mean, it was the tagline for goodness sakes.

And this is the impression the movie wanted to leave. But that was not how things happened. My gripe was that this was totally uneccessary. R. Scott’s “not quite documentary” didn’t need to leave this impression behind to show these soldiers as heros since they very clearly were.

And the motto is, taglines are dumb.

But to be fair, “Leave No Man Behind!” makes a much more marketable tagline than “Operation Total Pooch Screw.” Studios have to balance these things to make money.