(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
Miracle at St. Anna is a 2008 war film directed by Spike Lee and written by James McBride, based on McBride's novel of the same name. The film was released on September 26, 2008, and is set during World War II, in fall of 1944 in Tuscany and in the winter of 1984 in New York City and Rome.
Miracle at St. Anna follows four black soldiers of the all-black 92nd Infantry Division who get trapped near a small Tuscan village on the Gothic Line during the Italian Campaign of World War II after one of them risks his life to save an Italian boy.
The group is made up of:
The idealistic Staff Sergeant Stamps, who believes fighting in World War II will help American Negroes to win the same rights as whites; the world-wise Sergeant Bishop, whose ambitions are much more prosaic and personal: survival, economic gain, female company, etc.; Corporal Negron, a Puerto Rican, whose perception of the racial issue is somewhat different due to his Hispanic upbringing; and the hulking, but naive, Private First Class Train, whose childlike attitude bridges the gap with the rescued Italian child, himself suffering from the after effects of a terrible trauma.
The story is inspired by the August 1944 Sant'Anna di Stazzema massacre perpetrated by the Waffen-SS. There is also a reference to a sculpted head from Ponte Santa Trinita in Florence that acts as a Macguffin.
The movie starts off going through a man’s apartment in the early 1980s. It is filled with religious items, as well as war posters and a Purple Heart. He is watching a John Wayne movie about war (The Longest Day). After that, he goes to work at a NYC post office. He is selling stamps to customers, when all of a sudden a familiar man walks up to buy a stamp. The customer exclaims “You!”, and then all of a sudden the clerk pulls out a gun and shoots him from behind the counter. As the rest of the customers run out of the building, the man closes his window and walks away, leaving the gun behind.
A young reporter Tim Boyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walks into the scene, meeting with Detective Tony Ricci (John Turturro). Ricci tells him that he missed the press conference by a few hours. He pleads with Ricci, claiming that it is his first day and he got lost in the city. Ricci tells him to go with several other detectives who are going to investigate the man’s (identified as Hector Negron) apartment. They go through the apartment and see the same things that were seen at the beginning of the film; however, when they go through a closet they find a very heavy Macy’s bag, which contains an antique bust inside. They take the bust to an antique appraiser, who appears shocked when he sees the bust and declares it to be the long-lost head of Primavera, one of the four figures on the 450-year-old Florentine Ponte Santa Trinita. The head had been lost when the retreating Nazis blew the bridge in ’44. It could bring up to 5 million dollars on the international black market. The reporter goes to visit Hector (Laz Alonso) in jail, telling him that his interview could be the only thing saving him from 25-to-life in prison.
The next scene is in Italy, where a man and his girlfriend are going at it as he is trying to read the morning newspaper. The paper gets thrown out the window and lands on the table of an Italian man enjoying some tea. He looks at the paper, drops his tea and begins to run across the road. The movie then goes back to the reporter and Hector, who has not spoken or eaten in the past 2 days, until finally he speaks one sentence: "I know, know who's the sleeping man."
After that, the film goes into a flashback of Hector’s time in the war (WWII). The front line infantry is walking across a river as Axis Sally is talking on a loudspeaker in the background, telling the blacks of the front line to come over and join their side because the Germans will treat them better than the Americans. Hector is walking with Bishop (Michael Ealy), Stamps (Derek Luke), and Train (Omar Benson Miller). Train has the bust attached to his bag with a net. The others are trying to tell him that he should not be carrying around the bust anymore, but he knows that there is something special about it. All of a sudden gunfire erupts, and most of the infantry is killed instantly; however, Train and Bishop make it across the river and call headquarters. Unfortunately, the white American captain in charge does not believe that they made it to the other side, so the order is given to bomb the other side of the river. Bishop and Train barely make it out alive.
Walking away from the action, the two spot a moving haystack walking into a barn. The audience can see that a young boy is inside the haystack, and goes into the barn to play with his invisible friend Arturo. All of a sudden the barn is bombed and the ceiling caves in on the boy. Train braves it out and looks in the barn. He finds the boy trapped, and tries to help him, but can’t. The boy is in a lot of pain, though, so Train rubs the bust a few times, tries to lift the heavy bar, and moves it off the boy. Suddenly, a German solider enters the barn firing at Train. He misses, but Train makes his shot. He exits the building with the boy right before the building is completely blown up. Bishop believes that Train is dead, so he goes off to find others. He runs into Hector and Stamps and tells them that Train is dead. A little bit later, however, they run into Train as he is walking across a bridge. He has the boy with him. Even though Train has given him some chocolate, the boy is not doing very well at all. He speaks Italian, as does Hector, but he does not talk at all.
The scene cuts to a small Italian village. A woman named Renata and her father live in a house with several others near the Mountain of the Sleeping Man (a mountain range that looks a lot like the profile of a sleeping man). The villagers believe that they have angered the Sleeping Man because of everything that is happening to their little town: the Germans had just left, and they still surround the area. Although the electricity had been off for over two years it suddenly returns when an American shell hits a power line, surging their electricity on. Hector and the rest enter the house in order to find help for the boy. Renata speaks English, so Hector is not the only one who can communicate with her. They help the boy the best they can; due to the Germans in the area, they are not able take him to a hospital.
The boy wakes up but will only take food from Train, who has become his caretaker. The boy keeps talking to his friend Arturo, who no one else can see. At one point, Hector tries to to contact headquarters via the radio, it does not work. All of a sudden the boy asks Arturo in Italian if they should help Hector with the radio. Suddenly it turns on, and everyone is shocked (and a little bit scared). They contact headquarters, who tells them to find a German and capture him before they come in to rescue them. They all have a little party that night, and Renata and Stamps begin to form a relationship, even though Bishop is constantly trying to seduce Renata with salacious remarks.
Train and the boy work out a tapping language so they understand each other: 1 = yes, 2 = no, 3 = try, 4 = sleep, 5 = medicine, and 6 = danger. They practice it and understand each other. All of a sudden several Italian men enter the house with a German. Earlier in the movie, Italian partisans were seen hiding in the forest to attack Germans, and it was established that the German they found was a soldier that had run away from his troop for reasons unknown. As soon as the boy sees the men, he frantically starts tapping Train on the shoulder six times, indicating that he was in danger, but for some reason Train does not seem to notice right away. The German looks at the boy, grabs him, and tells him to run as fast as he can (it's implied that this is not the first time he has given the boy that advice). The Italians and the Americans then begin to fight over who gets the German. The Italians want to interrogate him, and say that the Americans can get him after they interrogate him. Neither side can reach a compromise, but agree to stay together for the time being.
The American soldiers then ask the boy some questions in another room. When they ask him where his mother and father are, he begins to sob. Train tells Hector to stop, but he needs to ask him one more question: if he knows the German soldier, why is he afraid of him? The boy replies that he wasn’t scared of the German and that the German had told him to run as fast as he could. He was afraid of the one Italian man because he was a bad man. He begins to cry again as Hector and Train wonder what is going on. Renata sends the bad Italian man to check to see if the area is clear for the Americans to escape. He goes to check, and sees that the Germans are surrounding the entire area. He comes back and says that everything is clear, even though it clearly is not. He goes with Stamps and the captured German and they go wait in the clearing.
The other Italian man (Butterfly) is talking with his mother. He is very upset about something that he has done and he begins to tell his mother about it. He tells her about what had happened at St. Anna. In search of Butterfly, the Germans went to a church and gathered all of the villagers (men, women, and children, young and old), demanding that they tell them where he is; however, no one says anything. The priest tells all of the villagers to get down and pray aloud with him. As they finish, the Germans open fire on every single person. They fire so many rounds that they run out of ammo and finish off the rest of the people with the bayonets at the end of their guns. Everyone dies. Butterfly knows that someone had told the Nazis to meet them, but he does not know who.
We find out, though, that the man Angelo (the boy’s name) is afraid of set up the Germans to meet at St. Anna. He told them that Butterfly would be there, but he didn’t know that everyone would be killed. Angelo and his friend Arturo were the only two survivors and they are with the German soldier who is captured at the moment (the one that told Angelo to run). They see the Italian man speaking with the German head, and Arturo breaks free of the man’s grip and begins to run, screaming for his parents. He is shot dead. The good soldier tells Angelo to run away as fast as he can, and both of them begin to run for their lives. Butterfly is clearly distraught and he and his mother cry for the lives lost in St. Anna.
After the story ends, the Italian man walks over to the German soldier and slits his throat, then takes a swipe at Hector, leaving a minor cut on the neck. As Hector tries to save the soldier, the man escapes. The man says something in German, but he cannot understand him. The man dies and Hector runs back to the village to warn everyone. When Stamps goes to round up the others, he sees that Renata and Bishop have had sex, and that deeply upsets him. Bishop and Stamps begin to fight, and Hector breaks them up. Next we see the Italian man meet up with Butterfly in the forest. After they talk for a little while, Butterfly realizes that the man caused the murders at St. Anna. They begin to fight, and Butterfly is killed in the fight.
The base finally enters the village and meets with the soldiers. The head of the troops gets angry when he realizes that the German is dead. He says that they will be reprimanded and he says that they have to leave Angelo here. Train refuses to let the boy go with Renata, who says that they will take good care of him, but he doesn’t want to leave Angelo. Captain Nokes orders Lieutenant Birdsong to forcefully take Angelo away. Train grabs Birdsong by the throat and strangles him in the air. Train's face is in perfect sync with the mountain of the sleeping man, and this freaks out the villagers. Train releases Birdsong and the rest of the army leaves without Hector, Train, Stamps, Bishop, and Angelo. They leave them there in the village because they even though they called to be rescued, they don’t act like it.
As they drive out of the village, their cars are blown up. The Germans are invading the town and kill everyone they see. Many of the villagers are killed right away. Train and Angelo are shot. Train carries Angelo’s lifeless body to the doors of the church. Stamps leads some of the villagers around a corner where he thinks they are safe, but there are soldiers around the corner that kill them. Renata and her father go down a street, where they run into more soldiers. She calls for Stamps, who tells them to get down so he can shoot the soldiers, but her father walks towards the soldiers proclaiming “We’re fascists!” thinking it will get them out of danger. It doesn’t; they are both shot and killed, as well as Stamps (kills the soldiers but is attacked from behind). Bishop sees Train lying in front of the church. He tells Bishop to take Angelo out of the line of fire along with the relic, so he does. He takes the relic head from Train, who dies soon afterward, and gets Angelo out of the way. Bishop is killed by a surprise attack around a corner. Suddenly a boy walks up to Angelo, who wakes up. Angelo asks him if they are in heaven, and the boy (his friend Arturo) tells him that he is not. He asks where Train is, and Arturo points to his body, and tells him to never forget Train or any of the events that had happened. Arturo walks him over to Hector. Hector gives Angelo his rosary beads, and he gives them to Angelo to kiss and wear around his neck. They say goodbye and Arturo leads Angelo away; Angelo still holds onto Arturo’s hand as he disappears. Many Germans are killed, but Hector is the only one left of the village. He is about to be killed when the head of the soldiers stops the man. He tells the rest of the soldiers to leave, and he pulls out a gun. Instead of shooting Hector, he gives him the gun, and tells him in English to “Defend yourself.” He leaves Hector clinging to the gun and the relic. Hector is rescued and given the Purple Heart for surviving.
The movie goes back to the picture of the bloody gun in the post office. This was the same gun the German gave him, and he used it to shoot the man that caused the massacre in St. Anna. The man had immigrated to America from Italy and was living in NY.
We go back to Hector in prison, who apparently has not said anything more. He heads to his trial where a court appointed attorney is replaced with an unknown woman attorney. The state wants to put his bail at two million dollars, to which the woman replies that he will pay cash. She talks with the judge who questions her methods. She then questions his methods, saying that he will not get reelected next year. He then replies that his bond will be two million dollars.
Later, Hector is on a beach in the Caribbean to meet the man who paid for his bond. He talks with a man in a suit, who tells him that the man who saved him is the inventor of the seat belt, saying that since his life was saved, he wanted to save lives for a living. He points Hector in the direction of the man; as he walks over, he begins to cry. The man is sitting next to the relic head. The man tells him about what had happened during the war, and tells him that Hector saved the life of a young boy. He begins to pull out the same rosary beads Hector gave him years ago, saying that he is Angelo. They hug each other and cry as the movie ends.
Miracle at St. Anna received mixed reviews from critics. As of January 11, 2009, Rotten Tomatoes reported that 33% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 104 reviews — with the consensus that it "is a well-intentioned but overlong, disjointed affair that hits few of the right notes." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 37 out of 100 based on 31 reviews.
The film received an "A" grade from the Boston Herald, calling it a "masterpiece" and a "classic American WWII movie that both acknowledges the rousing tradition of such war epics as The Longest Day (1962) and The Big Red One (1980) and adds something new: paying tribute to the WWII African-American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Roger Ebert described the film as "epic" with "one of the best battle scenes I can remember, on par with Saving Private Ryan", adding, "When you see one of his [Spike Lee] films, you're seeing one of his films. Miracle at St. Anna contains richness, anger, history, sentiment, fantasy, reality, violence and life. Maybe too much. Better than too little." 
In late 2007, the yet-to-be-released film was strongly denounced by some survivors of the historical Sant'Anna di Stazzema atrocity and local politicians, including a call to ban the movie for "a false reconstruction that does not take account of the historical reality ... otherwise the damage to the memory and historical truth will be very serious." The mayor of the village disagreed with this opinion, adding that he is "sure Spike Lee will make a masterpiece." 
Protests were scheduled for the film's Italian premiere in Viareggio, Italy, by unspecified organizations resulting from the plotline of a partisan collaborating with the Nazis. This runs directly counter to the accepted Italian version of events, which is that the slaughter was not a reprisal but an unprovoked act of brutality and that the hunt for partisans was a pretext. Giovanni Cipollini, deputy head of Anpi, said the film was a “false reconstruction” and a “travesty of history”. However, Lee unrepentant, stated “I am not apologizing.” He told Italians there was “a lot about your history you have yet to come to grips with. This film is our interpretation, and I stand behind it." McBride, the novel's author, stated: "As a black American, I understand what it’s like for someone to tell your history...unfortunately, the history of World War Two here in Italy is ours as well, and this was the best I could do...it is, after all, a work of fiction.”
9th Ben Lyons, At The Movies
 Box office
Miracle at St. Anna opened on the weekend of September 26, 2008 to $3,477,996, slightly exceeding projected estimations of $3,415,000, placing it 9th in estimated weekend gross. The film was only released in 1,185 theaters; 2,315 less than its #1 counterpart. The production budget stands at $45 million,.
The Miracle at St. Anna DVD was released by Touchstone Home Entertainment on February 10, 2009. The DVD is available in separate anamorphic widescreen and Bluray editions, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. Bonus materials, on the Bluray edition only, include "Deeds Not Words" (17:07), a roundtable discussion with the conversation divided among director Spike Lee, writer James McBride, and veterans of both the 92nd Buffalo Soldiers Division and the Tuskegee Airmen and "The Buffalo Soldier Experience" (21:35), a piece that explores the history of the primarily African American military unit and the warm connection many of the soldiers felt with the Italian villagers in 1944, including interviews. Also included on the Blu-ray is a collection of nine deleted scenes that run approximately twenty minutes total. Four of these are extended versions of scenes in the final cut. The usual variety of previews and advertisements can be found in the "Sneak Peeks" area of the menu. All the extra features are in HD and include optional subtitles for English, French and Spanish.
 External links