Posted: 09/28/2008


Miracle at St. Anna


by Rick Villalobos

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There are films that show more than what is just on the screen.  Many films are lost in the ruble and so few are chosen to be great.  Every year there is one that carries the torch and lights the way for all others.  It is this film that will be remembered.  Miracle at St. Anna is a film that removes the blindfold.  It will beam a light of hope into the eyes of anyone willing to see differently.

Miracle at St. Anna is a film about the 92nd infantry division (Buffalo Soldiers), an all black infantry team fighting during World War II.  Set in Tuscany, Italy—four soldiers (Stamps—Derek Luke, Bishop—Michael Ealy, Hector—Laz Alonso, and Train—Omar Benson Miller) find themselves in a small town ransacked by German Nazis.  Aided by the Italian villagers of that town, the American soldiers remain hidden until orders are completed or until help arrives.

Director Spike Lee is known for making films that deal with race, politics and the economy in a truthful and at times shocking way.  He is one of the few directors that tell it like it is.  For the first time, there is a Hollywood picture that focuses on African American soldiers and for the first time it is done flawlessly.  More than just a war picture, Miracle at St. Anna blends a collection of viewpoints into one beautifully shot film that will make everyone shed a tear.  This is a must see film that will leave a haunting memory in all us.  Good films will do that.

Whether war epics are popular or not—a good storyline will always have the legs to cross the box office finish line.  It is a long and grueling road towards that block buster million dollar mark.  An idealist would say—who cares about the numbers and a Hollywood penny pusher would shun at that remark.  Hollywood is the ugly side of the entertainment industry that will leave the strongest begging for their mommy.  Those who do survive are those who get things done.  Directors like Spike Lee have shown persistence and it is that determination that makes him a top player rather than an alternate.

Inside tip: There are eighteen miracles in the film—but who knows—there might just be one that was overlooked.  So, don’t forget to count.

Rick Villalobos is a writer and film critic in Chicago.

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