Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Miracle at St Anna |
Actor: Miracle at St. Anna
Director: Spike Lee
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
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 ... more »
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Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 9/25/2010...
Preacher Lee's over long take on racial discrimination of Black soldiers in WW II
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While the history of the African-American combat soldiers in World War II has been told before (for example Danny Glover's 1997 TV Movie "Buffalo Soldiers"), it's a subject that's well worth being told from a new and fresh perspective. So here Spike Lee has decided to adapt Jame McBride's book which tells the story of the four black 'Buffalo Soldiers' of the 92nd Infantry Division, stuck inside an Italian town behind German lines during World War II.
The idea that the protagonist, Hector Negron, has been waiting for years working inside the post office in New York City, with a gun at his side, hoping that one day the Italian partisan who betrayed him and his unit and all the Italian people he had befriended during the war, would simply walk in and ask to buy some stamps, seems quite far-fetched. In the book, Negron has the gun for protection but even if that were the case, wouldn't one of his co-workers have noticed that the gun was there in all the years he was working at the post office? Even worse is all the time wasted on introducing the reporter and the police detective who are investigating the shooting. All we really needed was to show the shooting, cut to the detective interviewing Negron for a about a minute and then flashback to the war.
Spike Lee never tires in reminding us the extent of discrimination suffered by the black soldiers in World War II by their commanding officers. I didn't find it unbelievable that the racist officer Nokes would order artillery fire on the Buffalo soldiers' position simply because he couldn't believe that the soldiers were capable of making it to the other side of the river despite being surrounded by a whole slew of Germans. By the same token, it wasn't unreasonable to believe that the Germans would broadcast propaganda toward the black soldiers through a loudspeaker during the battle. Lee wants us to see the irony as the Germans remind the black soldiers that they're fighting for a government who treats them like second class citizens. But why does Lee focus on the propaganda broadcast for so long? We get the point in the first thirty seconds but it just goes on and on; one gets the impression that Lee revels in driving the point home despite adding unnecessary minutes to the narrative.
Another example of Spike Lee overkill is the flashback to the diner a year before down south. The flashback is in two parts. The first part is the good one where we see the four Buffalo soldiers being told to eat out back by the racist store owner as four German POW's are chowing down in plain view. But then Lee undermines that excellent sequence by having the Buffalo soldiers return, point their weapons at the store owner and ask for him to serve them. Just like Tarantino who fulfills an adolescent need for revenge by having Hitler unrealistically killed in 'Inglourious Basterds', Lee does the same thing here, with the full knowledge that in real life, the Buffalo soldiers would have been court-martialed or even worse, ended up lynched for threatening a white store owner.
Some have said that Spike Lee is hypocritical after his denunciation of the James Coffey prisoner character in the movie 'The Green Mile'. Lee coined the term "the magical Negro", defined in Wikipedia as "a supporting, sometimes mystical stock character in fiction who, by use of special insight or powers, helps the white protagonist get out of trouble." The magical Negro is "in some way outwardly or inwardly disabled, either by discrimination, disability or social constraint." And isn't that what Private Samuel Train is? He's a simpleton who sacrifices himself for the young white protagonist, Angelo. While I thought the child actor who plays the young boy was quite good, was it all that necessary to have him refer to Train as the 'chocolate soldier' ad nauseum? There comes a point when 'cute' becomes 'obnoxious'.
The middle of the 'Miracle' gets bogged down with a series of slow-moving scenes including Train's interactions with the boy, the soldiers' discussions with the Italian villagers and the extensive machinations of the partisans. Although probably anachronistic, I did enjoy Bishop's conflict with Cummings which involved the issue of black collaboration with whites. Bishop's position, which advocates that progress has been made by blacks via-a-vis a white racist society, was probably more reflective of the 1940s than Cummings' militant viewpoint, which basically advocated separatism and sounded like it came from someone who was active in the 1960s and beyond. Bishop and Cummings also come to blows over the Italian woman, Renata, which is another way in which Lee attempts to 'humanize' his characters. One truism is revealed: women will take 'bad boys' over 'ordinary guys' any day.
Lee's penchant for 'balance' may give the wrong impression about the German soldier in World War II. They were just as bad in regards to committing atrocities as the specialized 'Nazi' units. Yes there could have been a 'good' German office such as Eicholz, the former English teacher and the deserter Han Brandt, who ended up saving Angelo, but they were the exception to the rule. And even so-called "good" Germans all agreed in principle that the Jewish people were less than sub-human and needed to be eliminated in one way or another. One thing is certain: Eicholz handing his own gun over to Negron at the film's denouement would never have happened.
'Miracle' could have been a good film with extensive editing as well as Lee's toning down of all the heavy-handed moralizing. It also wouldn't have hurt to pare down the soundtrack which unfortunately underscores the dialogue throughout the entire film. Because Lee is bent on throwing in the kitchen sink, he leaves us with an 'epic' that's overlong and clumsy with too many subplots coupled with an obvious anachronistic perspective.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
David F. from GAITHERSBURG, MD
Reviewed on 6/19/2009...
This is an excelent War movie. Unususal story, compelling, moving, inspiring, disturbing and very dark at times...tells the story of a group of U.S. soldiers in Italy during World War II. Dealing with the enemy, and an even more elusive foe wearing the same uniform...intolerance. Fantastic cinematography, epic battle scenes, engaging and believable charactors. Spike Lee has crafted a spectacular flick in Miracle at St. Anna. One of the best War movies I've ever seen. Very graphic violence...don't let your kids watch it.
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
High hopes for St. Anna
zx2781 | Denver, Co. USA | 02/11/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"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 for several square miles over the battlefield and is audible to all. Fragmented story with a total lack of cohesion (like this review). My favorite is the commanding white officer (Nokes?) stating that the Germans were going to cause a race riot by piping in the propaganda. I think that those valiant soldiers were more interested in staying alive and protecting their comrades than starting a race riot in Italy under fire. But then again this shows the mentality of Spike Lee and the writer.
The Ugly : All white officers and soldiers portrayed as bigoted haters. In one instance the commanding officer refuses to believe members of the 92nd crossed the river so does not send supporting artillery strikes. His reasoning for this is "He is lying".
This same commanding officer condescendingly orders a black soldier to get him water. The black soldier spits into the canteen before giving it to white officer. Not only does this lower the mentality of the movie several notches but also slanders the memory of those brave men of the 92nd/Buffalo that fought for their country.
This movie had potential, unfortunately it was executed by someone who was unable to deliver. It is filled with contemporary language, modern topics of discussion, poor acting, and endless preaching about the evils of America. Spike Lee had scolded Clint Eastwood for not having any African Americans in Iwo Jima and had wanted him to rewrite history. Well, Spike has done that with this movie.
A gawdawful mess, compounded with racist stereotypes
David C. Read | Glendale, CA USA | 02/21/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The bloated, convoluted WWII flick makes no sense whatsoever. Nothing that is happening ever makes sense militarily or tactically, and the plot is silly nonsense.
For none of the above reasons, however, would I bother to review this dreck. What greatly troubles me is how Spike Lee, a black man, depicts the black soldiers in this movie: cowardly, undisciplined, mutinous, hypersexual, superstitious, ignorant, contentious, sloppy, etc. What gives? If a white man had made this movie and drawn the black characters this way, he would be widely derided as a racist, and rightly so. Why in the world would Spike Lee perpetuate these sorts of racist stereoptypes about soldiers of his own race???
This garbage deserves swift oblivion, and Spike Lee needs to do some serious soul-searching."
Disjointed & Insulted
G. Teslovich | 03/24/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
(1.) Disjointed storytelling with poorly constructed flashbacks (everyone's currently popular cinematographic technique to showoff cleverness).
(2.) Stereotypic characterizations with sophomoric scripting.
(3.) Cheaply constructed military & war effects e.g. military uniforms that look as if they were cleanly pulled out of museum storage each day; cigarettes & munitions that last forever despite long term isolation from supply support.
(4.) Worst of all was that the important story of black WWII infantry was turned into preachy propaganda & simplistic absolutes that do not permit the audience to be thoughtfully educated but instead to be insulted as if they were moronic simpletons."