Sunday, July 12, 2009
Miracle at St. Anna
When I heard that Spike Lee was coming out with a World War II movie, I was extremely excited. Lee is one of the best filmmakers of our time, and if he can construct a film about WWII, then it must be a sure-watch.
Miracle at St. Anna depicted WWII from the black perspective, which I had never really looked at before. The movie really focused on the devastation at St. Anna, but it also focused on a certain all-black batallion that was not taken very seriously by the US Army.
The movie follows these soldiers as they move through Italy. In the beginning of the movie, there is a striking part where the Germans broadcast a prerecorded message to the black troop. They are trying to psychologically mess with the minds of these black soldeirs. The woman speaking on the system asks them, in English, why they would fight for a country who does not accept them. Switch to the Germans and they will be given food, water, and respect. It really must mess with them, since they know that they really aren't respected, even by the Army because they are especially not accepted by those in the country.
What scene really got me is when the soldiers were still training at an army base in the south. They come into a restaurant, in their full uniforms, to order some ice cream sundaes. When they sit at the counter, they are refused service. Sitting at a nearby booth, a bunch of Germans sit who have been served. It boggles the minds of the soldiers as to why they cannot be served but traitors that Americans fight in war can be served. It really is an interesting question. How unmotivating.
But, the movie starts out with the only survivor from the troop who shoots a man as he is on the job in a bank. We find out later that the man he shot was the man who is responsible for the deaths of his men and the all of the innocent women, children, and others who were slaughtered at St. Anna. (The Germans shot and killed many in front of a church for they would not give up the location of a man who was killing many German soldiers. They simply did not know what he was talking about)
This man flashes back to his days in the service, when the entire story of St. Anna is revealed. Additionally, we discover where the shooter gets this separated head from an Italian statue (which is worth millions of dollars), who the sleeping man is, and why the boy they find is so special. It is a bit confusing at first, but once the plot continues, it starts to make sense.
After the WWII plot plays and questions are answered, the viewer is returned to his court case where he is put out on two million dollars bail. He reunites with the boy from the war who has returned his religious head. It's really a touching ending.
Even though this movie didn't receive great reviews and recognition, and I think it was very well done. Lee is quite artistic, and his talent is apparent when you see his movies. Certain camera angles and shots blew me away. He really has an intelligent vision, and he can cut and piece movies in a way that is brilliant. I was very impressed with how he put this movie together.
Apparently the film is adapted from a novel but is based on the true historical events depicted. The treatment of African Americans during wartime, the expiremental troops, and propoganda used in the film is all true as well. Many who saw the movie said that the depictions of the historical events were inaccurate. As a response, McBride, author of the book, responded with this statement: "As a black American, I understand what it’s like for someone to tell your history...unfortunately, the history of World War Two here in Italy is ours as well, and this was the best I could do...it is, after all, a work of fiction."
Other parts of the movie were very interesting: the concept of the sleeping man, the religious Italian head, the religious connections, the Butterfly, the chocolate giant. I thought the inclusion of the boy was clutch. His ignorance (calling the solider chocolate giant) and his strange connection with his dead brother and religious affiliation was eerie but essential. Then, in the end, it all ties back to him. It was very well constructed.
The movie was enjoyable, but I wouldn't see it more than once. It was very artistic, and it had a lot of good stars in it. Great acting. I am always impressed with Lee's work, and I am again here. Good film.
What do you think of The Miracle at St. Anna?