During the last few days I have been rewatching some of my old DVDs with the commentaries frequently provided.
Yesterday I watched “Black Hawk Down”, first as the movie, then with the director/producer commentary and finally with the commentary of three guys who were actually involved in the operation in 1993.
It was very interesting to hear the views of those three people. They focussed mainly on the accuracy of the film, with many references to the innacuracies from their own viewpoint. But my main take from their commmentary was that they considered this a victory for brave American troops. While not disputing the bravery of the individuals, my own viewpoint from watching the film and reading the book it is based on is that this was a typical American operational failure, where the organisers believed that overwhelming superiority of firepower would always win easily, and then discovering that the enemy has other ideas to the contrary.
While applauding the ideal that “nobody gets left behind”, this was probably the main reason for the domino effect that led to the ignominious result of this “snatch” raid. Let’s not forget that despite the massively disproportionate casualty rate, the original objective of capturing the enemy leader failed within the first 15 minutes. The rest of the operation was devoted purely to casualty recovery, and led to far too many deaths on both sides.
I also watched “Tora Tora Tora” with the director’s viewpoint. This was mainly focussed on the difficulties of making the film. I love the story about rehearsing a US navy sailor in firing a MG against fabricated “Japanese zeros” and then saying a single line. In the rehearsal the director shouted “Boom” when the explosion was to detonate. In the live shot the sailor fired the gun “for real”, got soaked by the underwater detonation, then stared at the director. When asked afterwards why he did not say his line, he replied: “You didn’t say ‘Boom'”
Today I am rewatching from a new viewpoint “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” while doing the ironing.