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
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When the guys leave the town in Louisiana there is a scene where they turn around on the railroad crossing. The scene and the movie is set in the 1940s. Concrete rail crossings did not start making an appearance until the 2000s. See more »
Safety is the greatest risk of all, because safety leaves no room for miracles and miracles are the only sure thing in life.
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MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA got panned pretty severely. And I can see why. Lacking cohesion and hopscotching around like a child with A-D-D, the story is tough to follow. And what about the title? Exactly what is "the Miracle"? Some might say it's that this film ever got made. But there are some upsides to it that I think make this a semi-watchable flick.
The first plus is that it focuses on a little known regiment of black WW II fighters called "The Buffalo Soldiers." Spike Lee had apparently been aching to do another "black story" and found his muse in Nazi occupied Italy.
Although there's been some bashing related to overacting on the main characters' parts, I didn't find that to be the case. Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, and the rest of these band of brothers did fine in my eyes. Although Spike did have them doing things that weren't being done during this time (specifically the "high five" which wasn't realized until the late 70s), I did find their delivery of the story to be engaging enough, and kept me watching during its entire, lengthy, 2 hours and 40 minute run time.
I also really liked the on-site filming locations in Italy, which gave the entire production a very real quality. The cobbled streets, twisted landscape, and ancient-looking buildings were all well-shown in the film and had me ogling at various times.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Although Spike Lee tries admirably to keep the story together, he too often wanders off on tangents that have nothing to do with the story. One particularly infuriating scene involves John Leguizamo (THE HAPPENING). He's in modern day Italy with his lover and his only use for being in the film is that he throws a newspaper out a window so that it lands on a man's table. Why couldn't the man have simply seen it at a newsstand? Why the whole set up with Leguizamo and the hot chick? Sex for the sake of sex, perhaps? The other, less infuriating, item that shows Spike wandering away was when he films the Buffalo boys being refused food service at a place back in the States before they were shipped overseas. Why this played a role in the film and what it had to do with the Miracle is anyone's guess.
Finally, there's the tough sell of the Miracle itself. Although people can debate what qualifies as a miracle, I think most would say it equates to something supernatural that cannot be explained by normal evidence. And here lies perhaps the biggest problem for Miracle at St. Anna. There really isn't a miracle. Perhaps it's well enough that one of the Buffalo men made it home and found his way to peace. Perhaps it's that the world spun and allowed the last surviving Buffalo Soldier to avenge the people of St. Anna and his fallen brothers. Perhaps ...but not likely.
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