Monday, September 29, 2008
Miracle At St. Anna
When I first heard that Spike Lee had a World War II movie coming out, it was framed in a very negative spotlight. Lee had the audacity to attack Clint Eastwood, a Hollywood icon, for his lack of black soldiers portrayed in Eastwood's own World War II film, Flags of Our Fathers. I thought it was tasteless for Lee to make a charged political statement in order to promote his film. In fact, my initial repulsion almost caused me to miss the best new war film I have seen this year. It is unfortunate that Spike Lee exploited the race issue to promote his film because I fear a great many people may opt to miss this film that may have otherwise gone to see it. Especially given some of the negative reviews that this film seems to be amassing.
I enjoy war films. I like the older films like Kelly's Heroes and the newer epics like Schindler's List, Flags of Our Fathers, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan and Red Badge of Courage. The genre provides plenty of opportunities to evoke a range of emotions from the audience. Miracle at St. Anna had the feel of some of the older war movies. The pacing was slow at times, but there was a slowly building crescendo. There were some peaks and valleys in the action, but the pacing was sometimes off. The ending was less memorable than most other films in this category but I enjoyed the flow of the film in spite of the erratic pacing.
Miracle at St. Anna tells the story of the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II. Four soldiers in Italy end up behind German lines. Through a series of odd events, the soldiers are separated and later reunited along with a young Italian boy who rarely speaks. The soldiers end up taking cover in an Italian village while they attempt to get their radio operating in order to regain communication with the rest of their Company. The American Forces in Italy need to verify some intelligence regarding a Germany counterstrike and find a stroke of luck when the Buffalo Soldiers contact them from behind the lines. The soldiers are ordered to capture a German soldier so he can be interrogated regarding the planned offensive. A group of Italian Partisans show up in the village with a captured German whom the young boy recognizes (along with one of the Partisans). The village ends up overrun by German forces and only one soldier survives after learning the secrets of the sleeping man...the name given to the protector of the mountains. The plot is intricate with a great deal of twisting and turning and flashbacks within flashbacks. The transition between eras can make your head spin, but this device works adequately in telling the story.
Read More About Miracle at St. Anna