Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

It was a brilliant move for Spike Lee to make a half Italian-language WWII film. He sets the film in Italy; there are Italian Resistance fighters (i partizani) and Judases and Nazis and compassionate Nazis; he has Italian cast members who are speaking Italian (and there are Germans speaking German too); the cinematography is foggy in a daybreak-on-a-mountainside sort of way; and he blends it all in with the narrative of four disenfranchised African American soldiers who are able to be recognized, by the white Italians, as compassionate humans outside of their dis-comfort zone of a repressive America.

A brilliant decision, really, to do this film. All the elements of a good, Italian WWII film are there. Spike Lee gets a thumbs up.  Oh wait, did I forget to mention the scene in which the female Italian love-interest (Renata) takes off her shirt while doing the laundry on the hillside?  And that she takes off her shirt knowing the soldier (Stamps) is right there watching her?

C’mon, Mr. Lee! Give us a break!  And by ‘us,’ I mean, those of us with a passion for non-gratuitous nudity in filmmaking, especially when you’re attempting to parallel a “real” Italian filmmaking syle.  You tried, okay. You tried. You did better than Clint Eastwood did with High Plains Drifter (1973), when he attempted to pilfer elements of Sergio Leone’s brilliant Dollars Trilogy; he pilfered poorly, very poorly. But, Mr. Lee, to just throw in a topless scene with one soldier, and then to have the same character actually have sex with another soldier (Bishop)???  Oh, it’s a blasphemy across the face of all that is decent! The inclusion of these elements dramatically cheapened the film.

The film has laudable qualities. I will admit that. But even a little piss in a 50-gallon tank of water will make the whole darn thing non-potable. Remember that.

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