Published on December 8th, 2008 | by Chris12
Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
Oh man, how I wanted to like Miracle at St. Anna. So, so badly. But I just couldn’t. Most of the time I was left scratching my head, going “What? WTF!?” Yeah, its kind of like that. For lots of different reasons.
First, the plot. We are witness to one Hector Negron (Laz Alonso), in 1980′s New York City, as he pulls a gun on and kills an unassuming man as he walks up to Hector’s Post Office window. When the police investigate, along with the help of a bumbling cub reporter, they discover a marble statue head, which turns out to be a priceless relic from a bridge the Nazi’s destroyed in WWII Italy. Presumably at the nudging of said cub reporter, we go back and see the story which brought Hector to the condition he’s presently in.
We’re thrown back to 1944 Italy, where Hector was a part of the 92nd Infantry, the so called “Buffalo Soldiers”, an all-black combat unit, which was a rarity in that day. After a fubar’d attempt to cross a river, he and three of his squadmates run across an injured and seemingly delusional boy, Angelo (Matteo Sciabordi). PFC Train (Omar Benson Miller) befriends the boy, who calls him his “Chocolate Giant” and they wind up taking him into a nearby village. Train is also the one carrying “the head” as a good luck charm at this point. Unfortunately, the back story of “the head” is left up to our imagination, and this is where the head scratching *really* starts to kick in.
The villagers take in the four soldiers and the boy, and they begin to feel more at home here than they do at home. Sergeant Stamps (Derek Luke) even starts to befriend the local romantic interest, Renata (Valentina Cervi), while trying to keep the untamed and crude Sgt. Bishop (Michael Ealy) at bay.
But as luck would have it (further confusing the situation) a band of Partisans rolls into town, lead by “The Great Butterfly” Peppi (Pierfrancesco Favino) and also the vaguely familiar looking Rodolfo, and their German prisoner, who just so happens to be the one who let the boy flee the massacre at St. Anna. (Ironically that’s probably a better name for the movie!) This massacre is a pointless bit of on-screen carnage that serves no purpose really, except to make us squirm, as the Nazis gun down an entire village of men, women, and children. Yes, its complete with bayonets and babies. Spike, WTF.
But back to the plot, are you confused yet? Yeah, more head scratching ensues. The allied command wants a German POW, and so our heroes and the Partisans come to an agreement to take the prisoner to allied command. But Rodolfo is in fact a German collaborator, and kills Peppi, and ultimately allows the Nazis to walk into town and totally blow away everyone, except for the boy and Hector, who now has “the head.” He goes home, and at his trial is suddenly represented by a very expensive lawyer. He apparently jumps bail and goes to a caribbean island, where he meets up with the boy again in a touching but confusing reunion….
…but the biggest head scratcher of all, for me, is why oh why, Spike, did you have to turn this into “a black thing.” Throughout, we have to have the segregation issue of the war shoved down our throats like its some kind of medicine that will make the whole thing better. The entire Louisiana diner scene is just so out of place and forced as to be laughable.
And the amount of confusion and plot points that go nowhere and mean nothing only muddy the waters further. A few cases in point: The cub reporter, the entire marble head plot device, the scene with the Nazi art dealer… Hell, the seemingly compassionate German commander, the entire St. Anna bit, ALL of it that doesn’t take place in Italy during the war.
Is this a case of a complex and meaningful book pared down into a shadow of itself on screen? I’ve not read James McBride’s novel, but it would certainly seem that way. So many hints at stories that could have been…. I may have to read it just to find out.
But my biggest gripe, Spike, is that if you wanted to make a film which honors the men of the 92nd, you should have done that. You could have done that without wrapping it in this bizarre package, and without all the strings attached. Facts are facts. 1944 was still a time of blatant racism and segregation in America, all the whining about it now doesn’t change the fact. It also doesn’t change the fact that the men of the 92nd fought and died along with everyone else, even if it was “a white man’s war” as is stated throughout the movie. Like most of *them* had a choice either? Come on.
Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition)
UPC: 786936775372DESCRIPTION: From award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee comes Miracle At St. Anna, the story of four black American soldiers who are members of the US Army as part of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Soldier division stationed in Tuscany, Italy during WWII…
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: Buena Vista Home Video
Manufacturer: Touchstone Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
- Miracle at St. Anna
- Brand Name: DIS Mfg#: 786936775372
- Shipping Weight: 0.22 lbs
- All music products are properly licensed and guaranteed authentic.
Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition)
Miracle at St. Anna
Miracle At St. Anna
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Summary: Facts are facts. 1944 was still a time of blatant racism and segregation in America, all the whining about it now doesn't change the fact. It also doesn't change the fact that the men of the 92nd fought and died along with everyone else, even if it was "a white man's war" as is stated throughout the movie. Like most of *them* had a choice either? Come on.