Friday, September 26, 2008

Miracle at St. Anna: Spike Lee Salutes 92nd Division, Buffalo Soldiers

As the verbal televised battle between Presidential hopefuls, Barak Obama and John McCain, plays out in the background, I attempt to multi-task by reading several reviews of Spike Lee's, "Miracle at St. Anna", a cinematic take on a different battle in American war history that never made it to primetime on CNN, nor the flashy big screens of Hollywood.  

And now having read four not so favorable reviews, I admit that some of their points are valid.  Yes, "Miracle at St. Anna" could have been shorter, and yes, there's possibly too many little subplots that distract you from the real story of four black WWII soldiers from the historic all black 92nd Division of the U.S. Army, aka Buffalo Soldiers, caught behind enemy lines. But those minor flaws should not keep you away from the theaters this weekend. 

Softening his sometimes polemic approach, Spike gives us a film that pulls on heart strings and sentimentalities despite all the violence, racism, and tragedy war brings.  Notice, even the film poster illustrates this. But ironically the poster also demonstrates how the thousands of black men and women that fought for freedom in a foreign land, but were denied it in their own, remain faceless in the picture of American patriotism and heroism.  If you hadn't seen the trailers or heard it was Spike's new joint, based on this poster, would you know "Miracle" is about black soldiers? It's Hollywood marketing at it's best to the mainstream.

Based on James McBride's 2003 novel of the same name, "Miracle" is a great visual history lesson.  But sadly, as we focus on the future and the inauguration of the first African-American president, many of us don't want to look back at how things used to be.  Understandable, there's a lot of pain there. But this poignant film  is more about the human story not so much the black versus white racial one.  

""Miracle at St. Anna" was never written as  a war story, it was written as a story about human beings who are reacting in times of extraordinary stress, trying to retain their humanity," says McBride.

And the cast does a wonderful job in portraying this. Salute to Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Omar Benson Miller, and especially Laz Alonzo.  So what do director, Spike Lee, and actor, Michael Ealy have to say about Miracle at St. Anna? Listen to these interviews from my post earlier this year to find out.

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