YEAR:  2001

ROLE:  Major General William F. Garrison

DIRECTOR:  Ridley Scott

PREMIERE:   January 18, 2002

Plot Summary

A quickly forgotten chapter in United States military history is relived in this harrowing war drama, based on a series of Philadelphia Inquirer articles and subsequent book by reporter Mark Bowden. On October 3rd, 1993, an elite team of more than 100 Delta Force soldiers and Army Rangers, part of a larger United Nations peacekeeping force, are dropped into civil war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia, in an effort to kidnap two of local crime lord Mohamed Farah Aidid's top lieutenants. When two of the mission's Black Hawk helicopters are shot down by enemy forces, the Americans, committed to recovering every man, dead or alive, stay in the area too long and are quickly surrounded. The ensuing firefight is a merciless 15-hour ordeal and the longest ground battle involving American soldiers since the Vietnam War.

Film Details
Josh HARNETT....................Eversmann
Eric BANA....................................Hoot
Ewan MCGREGOR....................Grimes
Tom SIZEMORE....................McKnight
William FICHTNER...............Sanderson
Ewen BREMNER.......................Nelson
Jason ISAACS.............................Steele
Screenplay.......... ....Ken Bolan based on the book by Mark Bowden
Cinematography.........Slawomir Idziak
Music.............................Hans Zimmer
Length..............................144 minutes
Publicity Stills
Production Notes

"Black Hawk Down" was originally the idea of director Simon West who suggested to Jerry Bruckheimer that he buy the film rights to the book "Black Hawk Down: a Story of Modern War" by Mark Bowden and let him (West) direct; but West moved on to direct another film.

For military verisimilitude, the Ranger actors took a crash, one-week Ranger familiarization course at Fort Benning, Ga.; the Delta Force actors took a two-week commando course, from the 1st Special Warfare Training Group, at Ft. Bragg, N.C. Ron Eldard and the actors playing 160th SOAR helicopter pilots were lectured by captured aviator Michael Durant at Fort Campbell, Ky. The U.S. Army supplied the matériel and the helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; most pilots participated in the battle on October 3-4, 1993. Moreover, a platoon of Rangers from B-3/75 did the fast-roping scenes and were extras; though none of them had served in the original battle.

Most of the film was photographed in the cities of Rabat and Salé in Morocco; the Task Force Ranger base sequences were filmed at Kénitra. The film features no Somali actors.


Anthony Leong, Media Circus:
Performance-wise, the cast is top-notch... Shepard is the film's convincing 'villain', the ineffective commanding officer who can only sit in the command center and watch as his poor judgement takes its toll on his troops. With its talented cast, polished production, and Scott's fast-paced direction, "Black Hawk Down" is a gritty, violent, and ugly look at the soldier's experience in war, one that is not easily forgotten after one leaves the theater.

Philip Wuntch, The Dallas Morning News:
Sam Shepard
brings his poetic presence to the role of sorrowful Maj. Gen. William F. Garrison...  Hans Zimmer creates a score that is beautiful, dolorous, and unobtrusive. Cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, whose work may also be seen in the current revival of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalogue, helps create staggering visuals that, like Mr. Zimmer's music, become integral to Mr. Scott's pattern. "Black Hawk Down" is a purely cinematic experience, as unified in its purpose as the actual attack was fragmented.

Mike Clark, USA Today:
If ever there were a story in which logistics should dominate, this is it — and besides, smart casting fills in the personality gaps. It's clear the movie is going to have all the human element it needs when we see that commanding Gen. William F. Garrison is played by Sam Shepard, who could have been a superstar in Hollywood's golden age of screen heroes.

Henry Sheehan, Orange County Register:
Many characters emerge with terrific engagement. William Fichtner projects a peculiarly modern sense of professionalism as Delta Sgt. Sanderson, issuing orders through pursed lips as he tries to impose order in the midst of deadly chaos. The best, though, may be Shepard as Garrison, a commander who has to make tough decisions without recourse to dramatic expression.

Scott Mantz, The Media Drome:
"Black Hawk Down" is more about the combat than it is about the characters, yet there are still some incredible performances to be found. Josh Hartnett redeems a decent performance as the idealistic Sgt. Matt Eversmann. In addition, Tom Sizemore gives a powerful, commanding performance as Lt. Col. Danny McKnight, while Sam Shepard desperately tries to keep his cool as the Major General who must watch helplessly as the mission falls apart.

William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"Black Hawk Down" is a terrific "trip" movie that - like "Private Ryan" - plops us right in the middle of a harrowing combat situation, and forces us to "experience" it for ourselves, as if we were one of the jangled participants. By the end we feel traumatized and defeated, and yet strangely uplifted for having survived the ordeal.

Scott A. May, Columbia Daily Tribune:
A marvel of style, execution and true-life drama, "Black Hawk Down" is Scott's most accomplished work to date and, without doubt, the best close combat film ever made.

George Meyer, Sarasota Herald Tribune:
Scott Ridley's take on this genre makes every bit as much of an impression as his others. Bypassing many of the easy answers to dramatizing this event, Scott plunges viewers into the belly of the beast itself, then rescues them a bit at a time. It's a director's movie; and a thrilling, tense and action-packed movie it is... Maj. Gen. William Garrison is laconically played by Sam Shepard, at the top of his form.

Chris Gladden, Roanoke Times:
Scott applies his considerable talents to modern warfare in "Black Hawk Down." The result is as gripping and harrowing as the Mark Bowden book that is the source of the movie... Sam Shepard plays Gen. William Garrison, who has to direct the operation from a command center through video camera. Shepard has aged into a picture of quintessential American conscientiousness.

Sasha Stone, CineScene:
Much credit must be given to Scott's team, chief among them his cinematographer, Slawomir Idziak, who comes at the action fiercely and unflinchingly. Hans Zimmer's score is the best of the year, hands down... The actors take it to heights unknown, especially Josh Hartnett, who reinvents himself by scraping off the Pearl Harbor mud. Sam Shepard is pitch-perfect as Major General William Garrison, who took full responsibility for the tragedy in Mogadishu.

Jeff Vice, Deseret News:
The huge international cast (which includes several Brits and Australian actors playing Americans) is excellent. Hartnett gets the most screen time — though Aussie actor Eric Bana makes a serious bid to steal the film as a tough-as-nails Special Forces sharpshooter... Sam Shepard is solid as usual.

Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews:
Sam Shepard, as Major General William F. Garrison, the man who masterminded the original attack, has the tough job of being out of the action, helpless to change the course of events, but responsible for the lives of the men he sent into harm's way. Shepard does a solid job of putting a human face on his character.

Gabriel Shanks, Mixed Reviews:
"Black Hawk Down" captures the tenuous balance between war’s dueling perspectives: the intimate, human experience of the individual soldier, and the larger expansive canvas of warfare…a balance that many other films in the genre have struggled with. Rarely have the results been so clear, so expressive, and so devastating... The cast, for their part, deserves credit, too; it’s populated with an appetizing mix of seasoned professionals and fresh new faces, all working together seamlessly. Maj. Gen. William Garrison, who devised and led the raid upon Mogadishu’s inner city, is played with crusty warmth by Sam Shepard; his measured cadence is a perfect choice.

Desson Thomson, Washington Post:
Aesthetically, you're in heaven, thanks to Slawomir Idziak's exquisite cinematography, Pietro Scalia's stunning montage and Hans Zimmer's pulsating score.

James Berardinelli, Reel Reviews:
Scott's movie is fast-paced and riveting. The film will keep the average viewer on the edge of his or her seat, with eyes fixed on the screen. Cinematographer Slavomir Idziak makes frequent, effective use of filters to dampen hues and enhance the "grittiness" of Black Hawk Down's appearance.

Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle:
Absolutely harrowing, shocking in its sudden revelatory immediacy, and very, very well done, Black Hawk Down is one of the best depictions of the outright lunacy inherent to battle I have ever seen.

Michael Srogaw, The Baltimore Sun:
What makes the film work is that the audience grows to see the Americans as one great mass character - confused, selfless, valiant and riding on adrenaline waves that can't be separated from their fear... From Sam Shepard's General Garrison on down, the actors succeed in reflecting not just the general truth, but also most of the specifics of the battle.