As a filmmaker Spike Lee has had his share of hits and misses. His latest flick, which hits theaters on Sept. 26, is definitely one of his best.
"Miracle at St. Anna" is a stirring film inspired by a historical WWII event in Italy that involved a group of black G.I.s. The film stars Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonzo, Omar Benson Miller and a pair of 40 Acres and A Mule veterans John Turturro and John Leguizamo.
"It's a WWII film--a brutal mystery that deals with historic ecvents and the stark reality of war," Lee said. "But it's also a lyrical, mystical story of compassion and love."
Based on James McBride's 2003 book of the same name, "Miracle" was shot almost entirely in Italy. That's the same country Lee had to go to for funding as American studios initially passed on the project. McBride said his uncle Henry, who served in WWII, used to "talk about how the Italians loved the soldiers there, the black soldiers. So I investigated it and discovered that there was an entire divsion of blacks in Italy as a combat infantry. That's how I found out about the 92nd Division."
The 92nd Division was an all-black combat unit, a rarity during WWII when most black soliders were assigned to work in the mess halls or some other menial position. There were 15,000 soliders in the 92nd who served from August 1944 to November 1945. Many of these Buffalo soldiers lost their lives during a particularly bloody battle that took place at the Serchio River in Tuscany against the Nazis.
The lines between fact and fiction get a little blurry from that point. One of the soldiers stumbles upon a wounded non-English speaking Italian boy whose story subsequently becomes the film's thru line.
Simply put, "Miracle" is one of the best films I've seen all year. You should run, not walk to theater on Sept. 26.