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 Tuscanys 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 workers anguish forty years later. And the miracle?
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I am glad that I read Roger Ebert's comments (positive) before viewingthe comments herein. It seems that people dislike the movie for avariety of reasons (including dislike of the director). I found themovie to be compelling, complex and riveting. The ways in which faith,friendship and war were presented were unique and thought-provoking. Ilike to think of myself as a discerning viewer, and this movie is oneof my favorites of the year. The acting was strong (except perhapsHector at the very end), the many subplots and characters werewell-integrated and not difficult to follow. I enjoyed seeingdimensions to the characters on all sides: the Nazi poetry-lover andchild advocate; the Partisan traitor and martyr and of course the foursoldiers. Mr. Lee did an outstanding job of pulling all of thesecharacters together seamlessly around the flight and fancy of a littleItalian boy. Well done!
Oh my! I am a big fan of Spike Lee, but this had to be one of his worstfilms yet. I think it should be edited again and the acting needed tobe directed better. It was very choppy. I found myself losing interestin the film until the end. The comedy in the film ruined the script andI found the dialect between the soldiers unbelievable for the timeperiod. Some of the slang terms used were out of place. The acting wasmuch to be desired. The characters did not draw the viewer in. The warscenes were shot odd. I went to the theater expecting a masterpiece,especially after fifty million, but things seemed to fall apart quicklyand if I wasn't a Lee fan, I would have given up in the beginning. Thescript was very weak. I believe the strongest characters were Luke,eventhough his character wasn't given much dialect to work with, andMiller. Miller's character was questionable at times, however hisrelationship with Sciabordi saved the film. I believe if it wasn't fortheir relationship, I would have drifted into a deep deep sleep. Theflashbacks were useless and the film should have began with the churchflashback in real time. This would have added a bit more interest. Theflashback of the soldiers in the US was a complete waste of time due tothe fact that the racism and JIM crow laws that existed at the timewere introduced by the NAZI speaker when they were in battle.Overall, I was disappointed in this film. I was disappointed in theacting and the choices the actors chose. The character developmentwasn't owned. I think filmmakers should really allow anonymous feedbackat their previews before releasing films so that another edit can bedone. This would have cut out 45 minutes and a couple of theunnecessary scenes that ruined the film.
Miracle at St. Anna is wildly unfocused in terms of tone and, at two hours and 40 minutes, it is unjustifiably overlong.
This is a review of only the first 45 minutes of this dreadful picturebecause I was so annoyed by it I just could not make it any further.This may be the worst depiction of WW2 ever created, at no point did Ieven remotely feel in the period of the 1940's. The acting in this messis so bad I was cringing at the ham handed delivery and insipiddialogue that these poor actors had to endure, it's not the actorsfault because we all know, Lee wanted you to say it in that incrediblyinane way!. Spike Lee, in his attempt to get his due and portray blacksoldiers in their own WW2 film has sent the black race back 100 yearsby creating possibly the dumbest most annoying characters of any racein any film I have seen in a very long time. Every black soldier hereis a childish moron who has no conception of soldiering and of courseall the white people in the movie are racist and cruel. I really couldnot go on another minute and can't believe anyone made it all the waytrough this disaster of a movie.
This movie was absolutely excellent. It captivates you from beginningto end and almost forces you to pay attention to every detail in themovie. Though many say that it was long and after awhile boring, themovie is in fact amazing and interesting. It shows the mental andphysical struggles of the black Buffalo soldiers of WWI and the peopleof the villages hit hardest by the war. It shows WWI in standpointsoutside of the normal viewpoint of the typical soldiers and the victimsof the war. Spike Lee doesn't disappoint with this and should havereceived many more accolades than he did for this incredible film. Irecommend that everyone see it and that you watch it with observanteyes and an open mind.
It begins in December of 1983, Hector Negron(Laz Alonso) a man in hismid 60s, and a WW2 veteran, is two months away from retirement. One dayworking at the postal office, he sees a familiar face, and for somereasons he shoots the man in cold bold. When he is arrested, the copsand a noisy reporter(Joesph Gordon Levitt) search his apartment, andwhat the find is a valuable statue. When the reporter goes in and triesto Hector, we go back to 1944, when he was a young Corporal. After abloody shootout, He gets stuck behind enemy lines with 2nd SergentStamps(Derek Luke), Sergent Cunnings(Michael Ealy), and Private FirstClass Train(Omar Benson). They find an injured boy, it brings them toSt. Anna Italy, where they try to get the boy some help, and Nazis areslowly closing in.A real masterpiece of a film, the way that James Mcbride can write it,and Spike Lee can direct it. I like the way next it doesn't glorifywar. The violence is thrown in front of our faces, like Saving PrivateRyan(1998) did. Although it gets more preachy then Saving Private Ryanat times. Not to mention it drags a little bit. But still a great filmnone the less. The actors are great, even Omar Benson who steals mostof the move, I hope he will get nominated for a Oscar. Spike Lees bestwork in years.
The tone here is inconsistent to say the least, and screenwriter James McBride, who also wrote the film's source novel, doesn't take any one character's point of view throughout, leaving the narrative decidedly unfocused.
First and foremost, the story in this movie was top-notch. Based on theincredible book by James McBride (and adapted for the screen by thesame), the move features an enticing murder mystery set in New York in1983 coupled with an extended flashback to Italy in 1944 withcharacters that start out with interesting personalities and a drama ofsoldiers trapped behind enemy lines and a fictional account of what isa mostly forgotten history of Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd InfantryDivision during World War II...all of which climaxes with anunforgettable ending.However, where this move loses steam and becomes distracting is in thesub-par acting, the poor placement of dialogue, the blatant,unnecessary and historically inaccurate political statements, and inthe awful selection and placement of music, which tended to flare up atthe most inappropriate times. In addition, several entire sequencescould have easily been cut and made absolutely zero difference to theprogression of the story, most notably the entire sequence involvingJohn Leguizamo as the art dealer.First the acting: Laz Alonso and Matteo Sciabordi are stand-outsamongst otherwise dreary performances by almost everyone else. But thatcould be linked to the second complaint, the poor placement ofdialogue. Often, the viewer is treated to quick, out of nowhere linesthat serve to play "catch-up" on some element within the story, andwith unfunny and inappropriate one-liners. It comes off exactly asthat, and serves to cut down on any reality.Also, the political statements: they fall short and become overkill,and overly obvious. Yes, we know that there weren't many major moviesabout Buffalo Soldiers made by 1983, or even really since; overwhelmingchances are, that anyone who would see this movie would already knowthat. The overly long opening sequence where an aged Hector Negron iswatching The Longest Day, commenting "we fought too" just seemedunnecessary in an already long movie. And, the mention by Nazis of theGeneva Convention as it relates to treatment of civilans, justifyingtheir slaughter by defining them as terrorists not only came off asdisingenuous, but it's worth noting that the sections of the GenevaConvention dealing with the treatment of civilians weren't evenratified until 1949. Finally, while the comparison of Nazi and USpropaganda posters from the eyes of a black soldier was certainlyrelevant, the scene that leads up to this where they return to theoff-base ice cream parlor with guns drawn after being asked to leavefor being black takes away much of the sympathy the viewer has towardsthem, especially given that the return was NOT in the book, and wasadded especially for the movie.Finally the music: at times when mo music would have the greatesteffect, the views is bombarded by music that seems to have a greatdisconect to the scenes. Examples being during key battle scenes, wherethe viewer is bombarded by symphonies, and during important dialoguewhere soap-opera-like music adds an element of corniness that wouldotherwise not be there.Was the movie worth seeing in the theater? Yes. However, I left feelinglike Spike Lee and James McBride missed an opportunity to makesomething truly great. I realize the way the book was written probablymade it hard to translate it into a movie, but without certain scenesand dialogue, some better music and with some slightly better acting,this movie would have been Oscar material.
2+ hours of your life you'll never get back. The only good thing about the movie was getting to see Renata topless. I know just from that statement people will think my opinion is worthless, but trust me (and the 32 other people who agree with me), I know the difference between a good movie and a bad one and this is a bad one. Don't waste your time on it.
The regular reviews and these comments explain the story,4 black G.I.'strapped behind the lines in the savage Italian WW2 horror.These'average' black GI's fight on,with some support from the ItalianPartisans,above all they show amazing COURAGE and BRAVERY and made mevery proud to see how well they fought- at the same time the moviecleverly made me look at the sacrifices they made,YET REMINDING ME whatwe have to remember that RACISM was (and still is) part of our changingand hopefully improving national bigotry? The characters,partic,theItalian peasantry,are superbly acted and remind me we still have a wayto go? Perhaps above all,this SUPERB movie showed how much we owe toour soldiers -must NEVER forget. On the DVD the BONUS interview with exsoldiers made these points timely and true,and is an important way toremind us what we owe to those who bravely died,black,white and ALL---
St. Anna is as disorganized, unfulfilling, and lifeless a picture as Lee is capable of making. That's right, it's She Hate Me bad.
Little imperfections prevent it from being the classic epic it wants to be, but Lee accomplishes quite a lot here.
I agree with most comments that it was very well directed but the storywas very clichÃ© and boring and slow moving...and highly unrealisticwith the main character holding a gun at his postal office for so manyyears and ...why on earth would the Italian guy come to the USA.. icould see it working if he was an Italian postal worker.. now thatwould have some logic to it.Otherwise if you remove spike lee...and put another director ..it wouldbe rating much lower since the story is not that compelling.. and yes,the ending was quite trite and over acted nice for a Sunday afternoon but nothing to compare with Saving PrivateRyan or other great flicks.
Miracle at St. Anna starts like this: retired black soldier HectorNegron (Laz Alonso) is watching the film The Longest Day on TV, whichshows John Wayne (1907-1979) heroically fighting on World War II.To thedisplay of North American value and fervent patriotism from whitesoldiers, Negron says: "We also fought on that war".The next day, hegoes to his modest work, which consists on selling stamps in the postaloffice.Then, a familiar face appears behind the window...and Negronkills him with an old German gun.After that provocative beginning, I was expecting to see a movieoverflowing of the classic racial message from director SpikeLee.However, the ideological excess quickly disappears when the storybecomes into a tapestry of cultures and events which do not onlycelebrate the black soldiers who fought in the war, but also to thebrave members from Italian resistance...and even some honourable Naziswho followed orders, but without forgetting the human compassion, andwithout blindly accepting the ravings from the FÃ¼hrer.However, those interesting elements also make the movie a bit tiring onsome moments.At diverting the attention on tangential situations andindividuals to the black regiment, screenwriter James McBride loosesthe focus on some occasions, and that makes the movie to get a bitboring on those parts.The sub-plot of the "magic" kid is particularlyirrelevant and useless, as well as the rivalry between two soldiers forthe love of a woman.I know that the dramatic slopes are valid toolsfrequently employed in Lee's movies; but the result in Miracle at St.Anna was not as good as, for example, in Do the Right Thing or Summerof Sam.On the positive side from Miracle at St. Anna, we have solidperformances, good setting and brutal and realistic battle scenes,which may not reach the level from Saving Private Ryan, but whichgenerate appropriate intensity, chaos and suffering.I mentioned on other occasions I am a fan of Lee.I understand why hisusual position, which is simultaneously challenging and explosive,makes his movies difficult to assimilate by many people.But I think hisbig talent as a director is undeniable, even if we only take his leastpolitical movies (like 25th Hour and Inside Man).Miracle at St. Anna isclearly one of the least achieved films from his career, but that doesnot mean it is bad at all.In fact, I think the film deserves arecommendation because it is well done and it is generallyinteresting.However, I cannot deny that with more focus on thescreenplay and a stricter edition, this movie could have been muchbetter.
I think you have to have an appreciation for the making of this movie. The producer and director was trying to break the mold of the typical WWII movie... Haven't we seen enough of the same thing? Whether it was a blockbuster or not, I think its about time something was put out there about the Buffalo Soldiers. It was not meant to be a true portrayal of the massacre of St. Anna, as the book this movie was based upon was a work of fiction.
[Lee] resorts to many of the same hoary clichés and fantasy situations he so frequently condemns.
After reading other reviews it seems to me that racism may be involved.White people don't mind black people to be Step n' Fetchit actingbuffoons, and don't mind a good ghetto movie. They don't however wantto see dignified Black characters seen through our eyes and notstereotypes. Black people are not given the option of having range asare whites. You're supposed to be stuck in one mode/mold and all Blackseverywhere are supposed to fit that. That's not real life. Take a Psychof Prejudice class or something and learn about someone else's culture. I don't understand if other people who've rated it low watched the samemovie. This was a beautiful movie that I enjoyed very much. I have afeeling many people are used to seeing Blacks in one light. Someonementioned he thought this was going to be another Glory and I'm sohappy it wasn't. It was nice to see the story of WW2 through our eyes,the racism through our eyes, the pain through our eyes. You get tiredof seeing everything filtered through a white director or writer andnever seeing your own story. This is emotional and disturbing. The story is solid and the charactersmake you care about them. I loved the little boy and his Gigante diChocolato, "Chocolate Giant".He was so innocent and it was beautiful towatch. I'm really upset others couldn't see it. I really liked the factthat Mr. Lee explored the division of Afro-Latinos and Africa-Americansand the fact that many of them don't consider themselves Black and wedo. It has to do with the one drop rule of the US that Spanish slaveowning countries didn't have. Many Latinos have a reverse one droprule, where as one drop of white blood makes you white. Our one droprule says one drop of African blood makes you black. If you are notprivy to that info you would have never caught that in this film. This is in my top 10 list of all time. Please watch this movie with anopen mind. Pay attention to the relationships and tap in to the emotionand you'll really enjoy this film. It didn't take any work at all forme to love it.
If I had to summarize this movie up in one word, that word would haveto be: "consistent". This movie is consistently and thoroughly bad: theacting is terrible, the directing is pathetic, the writing is horrible,even the music was inappropriate.Within about two minutes it was clear that WWII flicks are not SpikeLee's forte; from a directing standpoint this film is completeembarrassment. At no point during the movie did I get the feeling likeI was there or witnessing something realistic. The whole thing feltextremely poorly made and half a dozen times during the film I foundmyself breaking out into hysterical laughter because it was so bad thatit became funny.The only good thing I could say about this movie is that it would be agreat instructional tool in film schools to teach aspiring actors anddirectors what NOT to do.
If nothing else, at least Lee can feel some degree of satisfaction knowing he's made a movie about as ineffective and incoherent as Clint Eastwood's Flag of our Fathers.
I too have been a big Spike Lee fan for years. Also, I'm a sucker forWorld War Two films. After reading all the negative reviews I washesitant to rent it. But, like I said, I'm a sucker for World War Two.I actually liked the mix of genres. A little bit spiritual, a littlehint at Indiana Jones, etc. I thought the World War Two stuff (alaPrivate Ryan) was OK too. There were a lot of complaints about too manysubplots. Thanks for the heads up. I prepared for all the subplots. Ihandled them fine. Until the ending. Most of the subplots got wrappedup but not several crucial ones. That was very disappointing to me.Spike should consider re-cutting the film and solve this.