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Rob Zacny

Episode 453: Black Hawk Down and Zulu

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Three Moves Ahead 453:

Three Moves Ahead 453


Black Hawk Down and Zulu
We're trying something different at Three Moves Ahead this week. Rob and Troy "am I Siskel or Ebert?" Goodfellow take a brief respite from gaming to to discuss two historical military films: Zulu (1964) and Black Hawk Down (2002). Let us know in the forums if you enjoy this discussion of movies, imperialism, and interventionism.

Zulu, Black Hawk Down

 

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Black Hawk Down is a movie I haven't thought of about for a very long time.

 

I was 14 or 15 when I saw it. Being an edgy Eastern European teen I had little interest in or knowledge of world politics. So naturally, I was cynical and woke, being above the mindless masses who do not realize that evil Americans wage wars for oil. But this movie made me confused about what does it try to say.

 

I vividly remember a scene with some American pilot lying down in the dirt without means to defend. He's surrounded by dozens if not hundreds of Somalian guys. They do not look like soldiers, they're in rags. They shout at soldier but they do not harm him, they want him alive. The soldier is a healthy pretty guy with some cool equipment but he's powerless. Somalians are supposed to be scary but I saw them killed by the dozens by Americans. They're mindless masses, they're Zerg rushing elite American troops. I looked at it and thought: is this supposed to be a Starship Troopers thing? Am I supposed to realize now that those poor malnourished guys are defending themselves in a very benign way from that rich lucky bastard who came to their country for some reason and flies there in powerful machines shooting at them from expensive weapons?

 

Of course, now I realize that the conflict is more complex but the movie did a poor job of explaining what the conflict was about. It jumped right into the action. And it looked like our heroes are piloting Death Stars while Somalians are trying to swarm them in their small heroic X-wings.

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I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this episode even if I've never seen these two movies. 

 

For the movie suggestion bit I would say that 300 and 300:Rise of an Empire could be used as a jumping point to talk about how they defined our understanding of the Greeks and Persians,in the same vein that Hollywood created a fictional Rome that many take for granted as if that's how it was in the times of the Romans. 

 

There's also Lawrence of Arabia from 1962.

 

EDIT: why do some episodes of 3MA don't direct you to the discussion thread when you click the "Discuss this episode in the Idle Forums" but rather direct you to the forum page itself?

Edited by Khan Khomrad
I forgot to add a question in my original post.

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Oh yes, I've liked the episode and would be glad to see more!

 

An easy target would be Enemy at the Gates as well as 300. And general idea of mythical doctrines. You've touched on it a long time ago with an episode about a magic hill, I think. But it's curious how stereotypes portray warring factions. In EatG good guys are weak masses and in 300 elite guys are good guys, though the hero of both is an elite dude. That's an interesting theme. 

 

You can also call Shafer to talk about Enemy at the Gates.

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I really liked Enemy at the gates. Well, not liked; it's a horrible movie that portrays the horror of industrial warfare very well.

300 portrayed the horror of war in a more aesthetic almost balletic way

Both are excellent

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On 12/8/2018 at 8:58 AM, Khan Khomrad said:

EDIT: why do some episodes of 3MA don't direct you to the discussion thread when you click the "Discuss this episode in the Idle Forums" but rather direct you to the forum page itself?

 

That probably means I forgot to put in the link after creating the forum post. I'll double check it! If there's no link inserted when creating the show page, it defaults to the forum page.

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Just to add my appreciation of this episode, nothing wrong with strategy game talk of course but very pleasant to have a change, you should definitely do more when the games scene is having one of its quieter moments. No need to restrict yourself to films either, plenty of good books to discuss (Professor Bruce Garyk could be called in for that) both fiction and non-fiction. But on the film front elsewhere Enemy at the Gates got a mention and that triggered a couple of thoughts. Firstly it was allegedly based on the book of that name which I had read before seeing the film. Haven't read it since but I'm think I'm on sound ground by saying that the film borrowed the title and the idea of a sniper duel from the book but little else, whilst Black Hawk Down which (I read the book after seeing the film) seemed to track the events of the book (and history so far as I can judge) pretty closely whilst throwing much of the nuance out of the window. The way films based on books treat their source material could be a fruitful source of discussion. Cf The Imitation Game, supposedly based on Turing: The Enigma but actually a complete travesty of his code breaking work. Also it might be interesting to compare how different nations treat the subject of war, Enemy at the Gates was pretty standard Hollywood stuff, the 1993 German film Stalingrad was a pretty realistic depiction of the horror of the battle from the standpoint of the PBI and of the various Russian takes on that war I'd recommend everyone to have a look at Come and See which concerned the German anti-partisan operations in Belorussia and is by turns surreal and horrifying.

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Black Hawk Down is essentially sitting on the couch watching your mates play COD Modern Warfare. Whilst i agree that the film tells you almost nothing worth saying about the conflict, projects a very positive view of the soldier on the ground, and treats Somalis as more or less aliens or zombies or whatever, I do sort of like watching it in a completely mindless way. 

 

 

Zulu is an awesome film. Its a very classical British war film a bit like the Battle of Britain or A Bridge Too Far. Im not sure these films are too preoccupied with any message other than weren't we sort of great even though we didn't always win. 

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17 hours ago, varangian said:

Also it might be interesting to compare how different nations treat the subject of war, Enemy at the Gates was pretty standard Hollywood stuff, the 1993 German film Stalingrad was a pretty realistic depiction of the horror of the battle from the standpoint of the PBI and of the various Russian takes on that war I'd recommend everyone to have a look at Come and See which concerned the German anti-partisan operations in Belorussia and is by turns surreal and horrifying.

 

 

Come and See is certainly something but it shouldn't be seen as a Soviet take on the war. After all, it was made at the time when people got tired from Socialist Realism and all that jazz. Soviet movies about war are actually much more similar to Enemy at the Gates, I think. Or Zulu. Of course, Enemy at the Gates is explicitly anti-communist (commissaire in the movie says that monogamy exists, therefore, communism is impossible) but the general story is about a poor talented kid who fights for the motherland, beats rich old aristocratic German guy and finds his true love in the process. It may feel more like an adventure movie because the war itself is out of focus, you don't learn much about people outside of the hero's love triangle. At the same time, it may be one of the most important war movies because it codified modern view on the biggest armed conflict in history.

 

Anyway, the point is that typical Soviet movie about war is relatively light-hearted. Even POW camps do not look threatening in those movies. Usually, it's about a diverse band of soldiers who do heroic things, many of them die but the rest remembers so you should too. Like Only Old Men Are Going to Battle which is about young and inexperienced pilots - including a guy from the Caucasus and some girls - replacing older ones. It's tragic but not too tragic, PG-13 tragic.

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I'll pretty much listen to Troy and Rob bang on about anything really, so 1 or 2 shows a year about other topics doesn't phase me. But I prefer listening  to them talk about games. 

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Just chiming in to say that I really enjoyed the episode.  Similarly as SamS, I could listen to Troy and Rob discuss anything.  I would also like to throw out (as someone else said too) that a discussion on books would be phenomenal.  There could almost be a book club type cast out there.  Rob at one point on Idle Weekend discussed the book Six Frigates and I picked it up and was totally blown away with how awesome it was (maybe it was 3MA come to think of it...).  Troy is always discussing great books or book suggestions as well -- I see a lot on his Twitter anyway!

 

Also, speaking of, can we get a list of those books and other films talked about in the show notes?

 

Thanks all -- continue to love this podcast! 

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Thanks for all the feedback, both good and bad. It's always beneficial to hear what people think of the show.

 

2 hours ago, apac4245 said:

 I would also like to throw out (as someone else said too) that a discussion on books would be phenomenal.  There could almost be a book club type cast out there.  Rob at one point on Idle Weekend discussed the book Six Frigates and I picked it up and was totally blown away with how awesome it was (maybe it was 3MA come to think of it...).  Troy is always discussing great books or book suggestions as well -- I see a lot on his Twitter anyway!

 

Let me tell you, that idea has been kicked around internally quite a bit over the years, we just haven't quite hit on the correct timing / format / procedure yet. Yet. The time investment required by the participants is vastly different for one or even two movies than it would be for the type of meaty books that a discerning 3MA listener would want to hear about.

 

Or I'll just start my own Malazan Book of the Fallen podcast. Maybe Bruce will want to be on it.

 

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1 hour ago, Michael said:

Thanks for all the feedback, both good and bad. It's always beneficial to hear what people think of the show.

 

 

Let me tell you, that idea has been kicked around internally quite a bit over the years, we just haven't quite hit on the correct timing / format / procedure yet. Yet. The time investment required by the participants is vastly different for one or even two movies than it would be for the type of meaty books that a discerning 3MA listener would want to hear about.

 

Or I'll just start my own Malazan Book of the Fallen podcast. Maybe Bruce will want to be on it.

 

 

I will say this in complete contrast to my previous post: I read the first book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen because of our good friend Dr. Bruce and I completely bounced off of it.  I did finish the book but I decided against reading any more books in the series.  Can't win them all I suppose.

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I would just point out that a “historical book club” is the $2,500 tier goal of the 3MA Patreon. (Not a self-promotion — I don’t get any of the Patreon money.)

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So I finally listened to this after I had a day with 8 hours of driving.  I 100% want everyone to keep experimenting and I understand why the time investment of a movie is preferable to a game.  Strategy games take a long time to play and a movie is quick to watch and discuss.  I'd prefer some more afterdark where people catch up on games that they're playing or basically anything where Michael can talk about weird games.

If this is something you're going to want to do once a month I'd hope you pull it from the main feed.  

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