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Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
For strong war violence, language and some sexual content/nudit
Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller, Pierfrancesco Favino, Valentina Cervi
Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
Directed by Spike Lee from a screenplay written by James McBride, the author of the acclaimed novel of the same name, the film chronicles the story of four African-American soldiers who are members of the U.S. Army as part of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Soldier Division stationed in Tuscany, Italy, during World War II.
Miracle at St. Anna (2008) | Review
What About God?
Although the film runs well over two hours long, exists within a frame, incorporates numerous flashbacks, and jumps to a few other settings/situations, the bulk of the movie's story takes place in a remote Italian village long suffering from the war that surrounds it. Soon after German soldiers have left, in walk four African American Buffalo soldiers who manage to make it through their mostly German-occupied surroundings. Also in tow is Angelo (Matteo Sciabordi), a young Italian boy who the gentle giant Private Train (Omar Benson Miller) risked his life to save while making his way through enemy lines. Soon to join them is a rebel group of Italian Partisans, possibly including the Germans' most wanted terrorist "The Great Butterfly." And present from the get-go is the decapitated Italian statue head that Private Train keeps tied to his belt and calls upon regularly for protection, power, and healing.
Between the Germans, the Italians, and the Americans, the film is rich with racial study and commentary. Central to race relations in the story is the portrait of the African American experience serving in WWII. And the general state of those relations—not good. While white superiors stay so far away from enemy lines they can't even see them with binoculars, their African American troops are sent right up to them without a thought and with tragic result. When they offer strategy, they are dismissed. When they achieve the unlikely, they are not believed. And back home, their local diner is more likely to serve free sundaes to visiting Germans than to even open its doors to its own country's African American soldiers.
Even the discrimination-driven Nazis recognize the plight that the Buffalo Soldiers are enduring. While merely trying to disrupt American forces for their own good, their broadcast of cruel injustices and reasons the Buffalo Soldiers should refuse to serve their country any longer does ring true. As the disembodied voice that plays over a loudspeaker asks the soldiers, "Why die for a nation who doesn't want you?" And in light of what they are enduring, the question does seem valid.
When the group arrives in the small Italian town, their mistreatment at the hands of their own nation becomes even more pronounced. Compared to the rejection they faced back home, they are embraced with open arms by the town's people. While they aren't even allowed to eat with Whites back home, they share food with their Italian hosts. While Train had never even touched a White person before coming overseas, he is Angelo's constant companion and the only person the boy trusts. "I never felt to so free in my whole life," says one of the soldiers of being in Italy. But the fear mixed with that joy—that what they feel in this moment will never be a reality back home.
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