Album: Black Hawk Down: Original Soundtrack

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Album:

Black Hawk Down: Original Soundtrack

Artist: Hans Zimmer
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Label: Decca U.S.

After the success of Gladiator, it wasn’t unusual to see director Ridley Scott turn to Hans Zimmer again for the score to Black Hawk Down, his fierce adaptation of Mark Bowden’s account of the tragic 1993 American military intervention in Somalia. What was more surprising was the schedule Scott imposed on the German-born composer: 15 days to write, arrange, and record the film’s nearly two hours of music. The results of Zimmer’s miraculous two-week musical campaign not only belie those constraints; they instantly take their place alongside…

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After the success of Gladiator, it wasn’t unusual to see director Ridley Scott turn to Hans Zimmer again for the score to Black Hawk Down, his fierce adaptation of Mark Bowden’s account of the tragic 1993 American military intervention in Somalia. What was more surprising was the schedule Scott imposed on the German-born composer: 15 days to write, arrange, and record the film’s nearly two hours of music. The results of Zimmer’s miraculous two-week musical campaign not only belie those constraints; they instantly take their place alongside The Thin Red Line as some of the most compelling music he’s produced. The gambit here is simple—portray the combatants as two warring tribes, with their native musics locked in a tense dance for domination. Yet the results are geometrically more complex and artistically rewarding, with thrash guitar and speed metal/hip-hop/martial rhythms encroaching on, then fusing with, the timeless indigenous music of North Africa to become something wholly other. Senegalese vocalist Baaba Maal contributes greatly, as do Algerian worldbeat artist Rachid Tara and the duet of Denez Prigent and Zimmer’s Gladiator collaborator Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance). Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros’ warm rendition of Thomas More’s “Minstrel Boy” also underscores the military’s brotherhood. But the real star here is Zimmer, who again takes his quest for “music he’s never heard” to yet another rewarding plateau. —Jerry McCulley

Black Hawk Down is the fifth collaboration between composer Hans Zimmer and director Ridley Scott, and following Gladiator (2000) and Hannibal (2001), their third in fewer than two years. Though set two millennia after Gladiator, Black Hawk Down‘s unrelenting African warfare has much in common with the former blockbuster. Zimmer opens with comparable Arabic flavoured atmospherics leading to his trademark pulsating percussion and razor-sharp digital production values. The Andalusian colours of his Mission: Impossible 2 inflect the catchy world music/dance ballad “Barra Barra” before the score diversifies through textures that blend moody American (blues) and African folk elements with passages of programmed suspense underscore and electronic, sequenced fury. With so many elements fused into polished, perfectly organised musical landscapes, the result is occasionally like a compilation of elements from all Zimmer’s recent hit scores. In battle cues such as “Tribal War”, relentless rhythm takes over, but it is for the hymnal “Gortoz a ran”, the haunted pure beauty of “Still”, and the lament of “Mogadishu Blues” that this release is more likely to be remembered. As with Pearl Harbor, Zimmer concentrates on emotion over action, though here his work is influenced by the real folk music of the people involved, and hence the more moving for it. —Gary S Dalkin

Related Works

Book:Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Mark Bowden

The acclaimed New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down is “a shocking account of modern warfare . . . gripping and horrifying” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Destined to become a classic of war reporting, Black Hawk Down is Mark Bowden’s brilliant account of the longest sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War. On October 3rd, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take an hour. Instead they found themselves pinned down through a long and terrible night fighting against thousands of heavily armed Somalis. The following morning, eighteen Americans were dead and more than seventy had been badly injured. …[more]

Film:Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down

Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down conveys the raw, chaotic urgency of ground-force battle in a worst-case scenario. With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare. Helicopter-borne U.S. Rangers were assigned to capture key lieutenants of Somali warlord Muhammad Farrah Aidid, but when two Black Hawk choppers were felled by rocket-propelled grenades, the U.S. soldiers were forced to fend for themselves in the battle-torn…

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