Black Hawk Down: Where Was the 2001 War Movie Filmed?

Based on the 1999 non-fiction book titled ‘Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War’ by Mark Bowden, ‘Black Hawk Down’ is a 2001 war movie helmed by Ridley Scott that details the US military’s raid in Somalia in 1993. The narrative follows a team of special US soldiers sent to Somalia to destabilize the government and bring food and humanitarian aid to the struggling population. They use Black Hawk helicopters to infiltrate the area and let the soldiers down onto the ground. However, the mission takes an unexpected turn when Somalian forces attack the helicopters and manage to bring down two of them immediately.

Now, the US soldiers must step back and focus on regaining control of the mission while under constant gunfire. Starring Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, and Jason Isaacs, the historical action movie unfolds in Mogadishu, Somalia, where thousands of people suffer from starvation. The aerial shots from the perspective of the titular helicopters and the action-packed gunfight between the US soldiers and the Somalian forces against the backdrop of various rugged terrains, typical of a warzone, are likely to make many viewers curious about the filming sites of ‘Black Hawk Down.’

Black Hawk Down Filming Locations

‘Black Hawk Down’ was filmed in Morocco, particularly in Rabat-Salé-Kénitra. As per reports, the principal photography for the war drama movie commenced in early March 2001 and wrapped up in late June of the same year. Originally, the makers considered shooting in Jordan, but when they realized that the city of Amman was too built up and landlocked, they decided on Morocco, mainly because of how its urban setting added another layer of authenticity. Now, without wasting time, let’s follow the US soldiers as they fight against the Somalian forces and get a detailed account of all the specific locations that appear in the Ridley Scott directorial!

Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Morocco

Although the story is based in Mogadishu, Somalia, the production team utilized the similar terrains of the Moroccan administrative region of Rabat-Salé-Kénitra to lens all the pivotal sequences for ‘Black Hawk Down.’ The city of Salé in the area served as one of the primary production locations for the film as the main strip of Avenue Nasser doubled as Mogadishu’s Hawlwadig Road and Sidi Moussa was transformed into Somalia’s capital. Moreover, the first Black Hawk crash scene was recorded in Salé’s Hay Arrahma.

Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, also features quite heavily in the movie. Meanwhile, the Task Force Ranger base sequences were taped in and around the Kenitra Air Base in the city of Kenitra. The filming unit constructed the firing range on the beach near Mehdya, a town in the region’s Kenitra province. Furthermore, while the Target Building was built from scratch on a football field for the film, Mogadishu’s Bakara Market scenes were shot in a reconstructed courtyard off the Rue de Consuls shopping street.

In a May 2019 interview with Military, one of the movie’s stars, Eric Bana, was asked if he had any memories of the shooting process of ‘Black Hawk Down.’ He replied, “…The shoot was insane and fun. It was long, and I think the location really added to the intensity of the experience. The chaos around the shooting schedule and the fragmented way that we put the film together added to it as well. We all found ourselves on the streets of Rabat, Morocco, running around making noises.”

During the same conversation, Eric was asked if he had a similar experience making ‘Lone Survivor’ as he did while shooting the 2001 action film. He explained, “No, it was kind of similar. No, we had a lot of military people working with us. I worked really closely with (retired Army Col.) Lee Van Arsdale. (Former Navy SEAL) Harry Humphries was on the shoot, and obviously, we had a lot of active airborne who were flying the birds and so forth.”

The director Ridley Scott also had a conversation with Deadline in May 2019, where he revisited his experience shooting ‘Black Hawk Down’ in Morocco. He expanded, “I was pretty intimately aware of many places in Morocco. I had shot there already, I had done four big ones there, so I knew that in Rabat, across the river, there’s this place called Salé and I went into Salé with a deal that I’m going to employ 1,500 local people who will be actors on the ground running with AK-47s and shit like that and there will be breakfast, lunch, and dinner for guys for 12-15 weeks.”

Ridley added, “So we employed all locals immediately, and they loved it, and it’s amazing, as you watch the scenes, all that crowd is moving like the real thing. I could not believe the natural form of their acting and passion and, what’s spooky about it is, because I had a lot of people there from the Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, they all knew how to use machine guns.” He revealed the number of cameras he worked with during most of the shooting, “…Remember, too, I was using, always, 8 to 11 cameras. Had to, otherwise I’d still be shooting. If I had one camera I’d still be shooting. I know where to put the cameras because it’s geometry. If you’ve got it in your head you know where to put them when you get there.”

Read More: Is Black Hawk Down Based on a True Story?