Reviews Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

Published on December 8th, 2008 | by Chris

12

Miracle at St. Anna (2008)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On December 8, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012

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.

StAnnaPosterOh 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) Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition)
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Description

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...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: Buena Vista Home Video
Manufacturer: Touchstone Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Miracle at St. Anna

Features

  • ACTION/ADVENTURE
  • Run Time: 160
  • Release Date: 12/23/2012
  • R

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly Wonderful, January 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
As some others have said about the 1-star reviews, I don't know what movie they watched because it wasn't the one I watched.

But we see two major errors in the negative reviews. So let's deal with them.

1) "all the white people are racist"
This is so wrong it's amazing that anyone could claim it. The entire film revolves around the caring, even loving, relationships between white and black characters. Yes, there are some white racists. It's the 1940s.
But let's go group by group.

US Military Officers: we have roughly 3.

First, there is the idiot racist junior officer who is immediately in charge of the main characters. He's the kind of man who refuses to believe what the troops on the ground say because they don't fit his mental understanding of what "has to be the truth". He also refuses to let there be any response to his orders. Yes, he's white and he's doing this to black troops. But this type of character exists in hundreds of... Read more
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144 of 198 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars High hopes for St. Anna, February 11, 2009
By 
This review is from: Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I had wanted to like this movie so much. As much as I wanted to like Windtalkers. Both had potential to be really great but were unable to rise above an absolutely juvenile and cheesy script. I am an avid WWII buff and I give alot of license to war movies and don't pick them apart for their accuracy or lack there of but this one not only insults the viewer but the legacy of the 92nd/Buffalo.

The Good : Absolutely beautiful cinematography. If you could mute the sound (dialogue) one might think they were watching a pretty decent WWII era movie. Battle scenes were shot well. Uniforms were pretty dead on accurate and the weapons were accurate although Thompson SMGs and 1911 .45 caliber HGs did not have 100 round clips......

The Bad : Awful and embarrassing dialogue embellished with overacting which made it almost comical. Obligatory nudity. Soldiers using language and phrases that would be used only today. A German louspeaker that blares Axis Sally's propaganda... Read more
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26 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painstakingly accurate, actually., August 2, 2010
By 
Stacy K. (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
As it happens, the US 92nd Infantry Division was a dumping ground for incompetent white officers. The general staff operated on the assumption that these imcompetents would do the least damage, overall, commanding Negro soldiers, who were generally tolerated by the white man's army only at the insistence of the Roosevelt Administration. The high percentage of bad reviews this excellent and historically accurate movie has received has little to do with the movie itself, and everything to do with the persistence of institutional and structural racism in the US, because this movie is, as I say, painstakingly accurate. It is worth noting that the full range of racial attitudes are depicted here among every group. For instance, a second white company commander informs the divisional commander of why these men were isolated on the far side of a river their own company commander insists they didn't cross. White MPs intervene on behalf of the black soldiers who were denied service at a... Read more
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Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition)
Miracle at St Anna (Widescreen Edition)
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Miracle At St. Anna
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Miracle at St. Anna (2008) Chris

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.

2.5


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



12 Responses to Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

  1. Anonymous says:

    great movie, but you guys are even giving away spoilers and all, such rascism toward spike lee…You devils

  2. greg says:

    LOVED the movie! But can find much info about the little boy Matteo Sciabordi in real life. like age and so on.

  3. Anonymous says:

    why did he have to bring the racism into it? come on, for fuck sake why do you think? I agree the movie is shit but the racism issue US army ww2 era is definately a story that has yet to be properly told.

  4. Eduardo Schneider says:

    Really confusing and disconnected … WTF does Hector mean by ?… I know the sleeping man … Several stories that just do not connect to each other… Where is the miracle ? Waste of time …

  5. Crystal says:

    Trailer is amazing. This movie is phenomenal. I do agree with you Eduardo, they really didn’t get into detail about ‘The Sleeping Man’ or what the miracle really was. But I still think it’s VERY worth watching!

  6. Louis says:

    Actually, the movie is fairly similar to the book. So, if you think that the book is going to answer any of the questions that the movie didn’t…think again!

  7. TP says:

    great review, exactly how i felt about it, the movie just left me frustrated and pissed off!

  8. anonymous says:

    This review is absolutely ridiculous. Just because there is some depth to the movie doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time. Bottom line, racism during WWII happened, and to ignore that in a film such as this would be eliminating historical authenticity. This was a powerful film, meant to tell the story of honorable men and it absolutely served its purpose. It sucks that you didn’t grasp it but maybe that means you should leave the criticizing to people that did.

  9. Chris says:

    “…meant to tell the story of honorable men…” OK, but it really fails to do that. That’s my point.

  10. clitha says:

    the story of the honorable men includes- is steeped in racism and unfortunately that was a bigger impact on their lives and the lives of their descendants than WWII. It takes a Black auteur to bring that out though since many White directors or people feel like racism is something that Blacks should just forget about or should not still be dwelling on.

  11. SoldiersMail says:

    This movie was absolutely incoherent… Yes, it is a Spike Lee joint.

  12. Randi says:

    Thank you for telling us who Hector shot in the beginning of the movie! I have been searching all over the Internet to find out.

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