Miracle at St Anna

Director Spike Lee's powerful World War II drama follows the story of a kindhearted black American solder, Sam Train played by Omar Benson, and three others, who become trapped in a small Tuscan village after Train risks his life to save a wounded Italian boy, Angelo (Matteo Sciabordi).

The men are hidden by sympathetic villager, Renata (Valentina Cervi) and a partisan leader Peppi, Grotta (Pierfrancesco Favino), The script, adapted from his own novel by writer James McBride, contains much spiritual debate and reflection and pits Catholicism, as embodied by a heroic priest, against the brutality of the occupying Nazis. About 15,000 African American soldiers served in the 92nd Infantry Division during World War II.

While its enlisted men and junior officers were black, the 92nd's commanders were white and, as portrayed here, both their racial attitudes and their tactical skills left much to be desired. Complex and violent, with plenty of crude army language, this film nevertheless has a depth and range which make it worth seeing.

first posted LONDON - 24 October 2008 - 180 words

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