Miracle at St. Anna
Director Spike Lee brings us a story by New York Times bestseller James McBride. Miracle at St. Anna follows four Buffalo Soldiers from the Army’s Negro 92nd Division during World War II. After they cross over German lines, the Buffalo soldiers find refuge in a small Tuscan village. Fighting a war for a country that doesn’t respect them, the soldiers manage to find solace in the unlikely peasant village. Although they are fighting along Buffalo soldiers, the white American soldiers still experienced racist feelings towards their fellow comrades. On the other side, is the Buffalo soldiers’ unfamiliar friendships with those of white skin. The film stars Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, and Omar Benson Miller as the African American soldiers.
Along with tackling the racial tensions that occurred in the period, Lee tiptoes around the mysterious and unexplained. After finding the head of a statue, the soldiers begin to experience life or death situations and prevail numerous times. They begin to treat the head as a superstitious magical power. When one of the soldiers rescues a little boy (Matteo Sciabordi), the boy returns the favor by helping them in inexplicable ways. It becomes a war movie with a touch of fantasy.
Lee confronts a side of war that is often never portrayed: the African America point of view. He not only tackles a difficult story, but also shoots in an exhilarating way. With slow death scenes yet quick transitions, he leaves you no time to mourn the losses until the final shot that scans over the dead bodies so you can take in the full effect.
The film does struggle with length and fluency. At around 160 minutes you have to make a conscious effort to focus on the story. Different sub plots occur that intertwine and it becomes difficult to keep track of them all. But in the end, the movie captures an emotional story with lead characters that hardly ever get their story told in Hollywood.