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Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

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Set in 1944 Italy, the story of four black American soldiers who get trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII.

Director:

Spike Lee

Writers:

James McBride (screenplay), James McBride (novel)
2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Derek Luke ... 2nd Staff Sergeant Aubrey Stamps
Michael Ealy ... Sergeant Bishop Cummings
Laz Alonso ... Corporal Hector Negron
Omar Benson Miller ... Private First Class Sam Train
Pierfrancesco Favino ... Peppi 'The Great Butterfly' Grotta
Valentina Cervi ... Renata
Matteo Sciabordi Matteo Sciabordi ... Angelo Torancelli (The Boy)
John Turturro ... Detective Antonio 'Tony' Ricci
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Tim Boyle
John Leguizamo ... Enrico
Kerry Washington ... Zana Wilder
D.B. Sweeney ... Colonel Driscoll
Robert John Burke ... General Ned Almond
Omari Hardwick ... Platoon Commander Huggs
Omero Antonutti ... Ludovico
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Storyline

Christmas, 1983. A New York postal clerk, a Buffalo Soldier in Italy in World War II, shoots a stranger. In his apartment, police find a valuable Italian marble head, missing since the war. Flashbacks tell the story of four Black soldiers who cross Tuscany's Serchio River, dodging German and friendly fire. With a shell-shocked boy in tow, they reach the village of Colognora. Orders via radio tell them to capture a German soldier for questioning about a counteroffensive. In the village, a beautiful woman, partisans that include a traitor and a local legend, the boy, and the story of a recent massacre connect to the postal worker's anguish forty years later. And the miracle? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

World War II Has Its Heroes And Its Miracles. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong war violence, language and some sexual content/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Italy

Language:

English | German | Italian

Release Date:

26 September 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Spike Lee WWII Project See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,477,996, 28 September 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$7,916,887, 23 November 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Samuel L. Jackson turn down the offer to play as Corporal Hector Negron to work on Lakeview Terrace (2008). See more »

Goofs

General Ned Almond's Colt 1911 is a post-war gun. The grip medallions are of postwar style. See more »

Quotes

Private First Class Sam Train: God don't like ugly...
Sergeant Bishop Cummings: Well, he don't seem to like pretty a whole helluva lot either.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The O'Reilly Factor: Episode dated 27 June 2008 (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

The Longest Day
By Maurice Jarre
Used By Permission of EMI Robbins CNALOG Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
the best of Spike Lee's misfires - it's not a good movie, but it's too passionate and powerful to call really 'bad'
27 September 2008 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Sometimes a true-blue filmmaker, full of art-filled aspirations and good intentions, isn't always the best judge of what will ultimately really work for the story. This has happened to Spike Lee on more than one occasion- this taking aside the fact that he has consistently puffed-up many of his films lenght-wise- and in Miracle at St. Anna he makes an admirable, powerful stumble. It's not embarrassing like Bamboozled or just laughable like She Hate Me; he has a goal here, and it's worth trying out. The message is made right in the first scene: John Wayne war movies are propagandistic drek that show really only one side. Spike Lee's 'version' of black soldiers embedded in a Tuscan village in WW2 is meant to be an antidote to all of those pompous, (practically) white-only war pictures. The problem is that he hasn't done much to advance the genre, or break out of anything really interesting with the bulk of the characters.

Ironic then that Lee should criticize Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers since both films suffer from similar faults: they're too long, too convoluted, occasionally far too schmaltzy, and whether by partnership (being co-produced by Spielberg himself) or just ripping-off, Saving Private Ryan is evoked more than once in the battle scenes. In the case of Lee's film, he also isn't entirely sure always how he wants to ground the picture: is it about the black soldiers on their quagmire of sorts, or about the little boy who nicknames the big friendly black soldier "Chocolate Giant", or about Partisans and their daring-do and corruption alongside the Nazi's? Or is it about believing in frigging miracles? Lee wants it to be about all of these things, and has made the running time of 160+ minutes so that he can fit as much as possible with pretty much anything and everything from James McBride's book packed in (this even includes anachronisms, like a German officer referring to the Geneva conventions!)

And while it is easy to criticize Lee for putting in so much, and overcrowding the mid-section of his picture (and eventually coming to some real head-scratching, groan-inducing bits towards the very end), there is passionate film-making on display. There are chunks that are compelling, that do convey the blatant racism that was pervasive at the time for anyone with dark skin color (albeit Lee stuffs in next to no white people who aren't dumb bigots), and the as-a-given brutality of the Nazi war machine. There's one particular scene, I should note where an entire town is massacred, that delivers the devastating effect Lee wants, and there are a couple others like it that deliver the visceral reaction intended with modern war pictures.

For all of its faults, for all of its hackneyed acting- including one guy who seems like a WW2 version of the Alpa Chino character from Tropic Thunder complete with gold tooth- and bits involving a precocious kid communicating by tapping, and for its mind-boggling plot twists, it is often well-directed and conscious of its message. It's a disappointment, to be certain, but there's worse. 5.5/10


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