British director Ridley Scott wants his new film about U.S. intervention in Somalia, Black Hawk Down, to encourage public debate about Afghanistan.

As the film opened in British theaters Friday, Scott said the release date had been moved forward following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because studio bosses believed it would resonate with both American and British audiences. The movie is now in wide release in the United States.

"The film fundamentally discusses two things about intervention. First, should we intervene, and secondly, when should we do that? But it also raises the question about paying attention to what else is going on in the world," said Scott, who also directed Hannibal, Gladiator and Thelma & Louise.

Black Hawk Down, based on Mark Bowden's book of the same name, tells the story of a military mission to Mogadishu on Oct. 3, 1993, to capture two top lieutenants of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

The operation turned into a 17-hour battle that pitted several hundred U.S. soldiers against thousands of Somalis. Two Black Hawk helicopters also were shot down in the longest sustained firefight involving American soldiers since Vietnam.

The firefight left 18 American soldiers dead and more than 70 wounded.