Directing the ambitious World War II epic “Miracle at St. Anna” presented Spike Lee with several daunting challenges. Filming in the steep, rugged mountains and narrow, rough-hewn village streets of Tuscany, Italy presented a host of logistical problems and, since he speaks only English, Lee had his hands full directing Italian and German actors who performed in their native languages. But nothing was more emotionally difficult than recreating the unspeakable horror of August 12, 1944 when Nazi SS soldiers massacred over 500 Italian civilians – most of them women, children and the elderly – in the village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema. “That was very, very hard to do,” Lee remembers. “We shot two days at St. Anna and we could feel the spirits and the souls of those 560 people who were slaughtered by the Nazis.”

“Miracle at St. Anna” focuses on four “Buffalo Soldiers” of the Army’s all-black 92nd Division who rescue an injured Italian child during a German attack and seek refuge in the Tuscan town of Colognora. Mutual need and the absence of American-style racism enables the black soldiers and Italian townspeople to come together in friendship and even romance even as they are drawn, unknowingly, into the desperate aftermath of the St. Anna massacre.

More than once during his 21-year career Spike Lee’s been accused (falsely, in my opinion) of being a racially divisive filmmaker. But even his angriest movies (ie: “Do the Right Thing,” “Jungle Fever,” “Malcolm X”, etc.) confronted racism with an eye toward reconciliation. “Miracle at St. Anna” goes even deeper. It’s about the capacity for humanity, heroism, suffering, faith and mercy that dwells in all people irrespective of race, ethnicity, national origin or the uniform one wears.

Unfortunately, “Miracle at St. Anna” is hampered by a too-long script, occasional preachiness (such as when rival soldiers Derek Luke and Michael Ealy argue about how the war will impact Jim Crow, shallow character development (is the brave Italian woman played by Valentina Cervi simply licentious or is there something else going on?). But, the acting is universally excellent, the dialogue is engaging and the overall tale is quite compelling.

It’s fitting that “Star Trek” actor George Takei was one of the first high-profile Californians to take advantage of the court decision allowing gay marriage. “Star Trek” was all about celebrating, benefiting from and finding commonality in the things that make us different. This is summed up in the Vulcan acronym IDIC: Infinite Diversity through Infinite Combinations. As “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry famously said at one of the early Trek conventions back in the mid-‘70s, “The whole show was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day it learns to, not just tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms.”

The Republicans are hoping that, despite her inexperience and dubious ethics, Vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin will attract women voters. Of course Gov. Palin has no real record on women’s issues. Columnist Barb Guy made an excellent observation about that in her September 20 piece in the Salt Lake Tribune. Barb broke it down this way:

“…now that Hillary’s out of the race, the nominee with the most feminist chops - by far - is Joe Biden. Long before the barracuda donned her Miss Wasilla crown, Sen. Joe Biden was concerning himself with women’s issues. After authoring the “Violence Against Women Act,” Biden worked like a dog for its passage. For years he conducted hearings, performed research and collaborated with a number of women in the legal and legislative fields, receiving many accolades for his ability to work well with - and take direction from - his female colleagues. He even went toe-to-toe against formidable Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist over women’s rights. What has the barracuda ever done for women?”

Preach, Barb, preach!

Thanks for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.


Cameron Turner is a Los Angeles-area native whose editorials, entertainment news features and audio documentaries have appeared on national radio networks, online and in print for over 20 years.

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September 24th, 2008 at 12:07 am SweetSis says:

I have no desire to see St Anna
I am not a Trekkie. Which one was he?
Palin pales in comparison to Biden in every way.

September 24th, 2008 at 12:47 am lilmamma86 says:

Derek Luke is Fine as Hell..lil choclate boy LOL OKAY!!!! Thats the only reason im goin to see Santa Ana

September 24th, 2008 at 2:53 am Tawnie says:

Cant wait for that Biden Palin debate. Joe is going to eat her up and spit her out.

September 24th, 2008 at 5:39 am Mr.Fantastic says:

Gotta see it jus because its a Spike Lee Flick!!! He is the best!

September 24th, 2008 at 7:43 am nicq says:

WOW I just want to know if anyone else got that message from watching Star Trek Lmao!

September 24th, 2008 at 9:24 am thelma says:

Yes that is great that people can marry whoever the heck they want to that law that says they can’t is just dumb.
Palin ain’t done anything for women that message needs to be out more these white women are just blindly following her because she’s a woman but not looking at her record

September 24th, 2008 at 9:35 am BLACK MARKET says:

I love star trek people think its corny but it really has a major message

September 24th, 2008 at 10:02 am Ashley says:

Amen to Barb. What the heck has she done for anyone is my question? I love that you quoted Star Trek…nice!

September 24th, 2008 at 10:41 am culturepop says:

So happy you pointed out that Sarah ain’t for women! She sets em back a damn century at least!

September 24th, 2008 at 10:42 am culturepop says:

Oh and I think Spike had good intentions but I don’t know if I want to check this movie out

September 24th, 2008 at 10:56 am heatmizer says:

I give it up to Spike because no matter what he has made it his mission to document our stories from many areas.
And yes, Sarah Palin is a joke for real

September 24th, 2008 at 2:09 pm pmatters says:

Spike, Spike, Spike…I gotta go see it! If we are waiting for someone to tell us what Palin has done for women we will be waiting a long time. When she was mayor she made rape victims pay for their own rape kits!! That is a travisty!

September 24th, 2008 at 2:41 pm MR TIBBS says:

my grandpa was a veteran of this war i feel it is about time it was captured from black perpective i will check it out

September 24th, 2008 at 3:26 pm Tina says:

I LOVE Spike Lee. I really appreciate the messages he gives with his movies. I’ll have to check it out.

September 24th, 2008 at 4:11 pm Jane Kennedy says:

Props to Spike for telling the story
Boo to Sarah Palin …for, just being Sarah Palin! Ha

September 24th, 2008 at 4:15 pm Shawna says:

Not too sure about the Spike movie. I’ve gotten some mixed reviews on it. I didn’t realize that Star Trek was soo deep!

September 24th, 2008 at 5:03 pm Stephanie says:

Ahhh Star Trek. A oldie but goodie!! Palin is a joke. Tell it Cameron!

September 24th, 2008 at 5:18 pm YoYo says:

Tell it like it T-I-S Barb! Palin sucks!

September 24th, 2008 at 7:54 pm renep says:

I just want to see my man Laz in St Anna. The rest I’m not pressed for.

September 24th, 2008 at 9:22 pm CeaseNYC says:

damn babs - who knew?

September 24th, 2008 at 11:47 pm chica22 says:

I think Spike popped off at the mouth a lil too much with St Anna to Clint. White hollywood will not support and if they don’t (cuz black folks sho won’t) then what’s a hot headed director to do?

September 25th, 2008 at 10:11 am Cameron Turner says:

How about the fact that Sarah Palin is running around saying she’s a political reformer even though she is REFUSING to cooperate with the Republican-led state legislature that’s investigating her for ethics violations. ALL of her staff members and her husband have refused to answer subpoenas from state lawmakers. Palin is not only inexperienced and uninformed she’s also a hypocrite.

September 25th, 2008 at 7:17 pm Kenneth Boston says:

Did you see that katie Couric interview. Dumb. And on CNN today they broke into the show with ‘breaking news” when she answered two nonsensical questions from reporters off the cuff. hen a candidate simply answering a question is breaking news, we got to know we are in a full blown circus

September 25th, 2008 at 10:47 pm Joselyn Tanarive says:

It’s all such a soap opera in its dramatic manipulation I can barely keep everything straight anymore.

September 26th, 2008 at 7:09 pm Krista Wills says:

Camneron you always really school us and I appreciate that so much sometimes I think I’m going crazy with all of this nonsense about Palin and McCain and even the Obama stuff. Politics is at an all time low low low what about the people!

September 27th, 2008 at 10:22 am Chatty Cathy says:

You gots to love George Takai. Classically cheesy and essential part of Anerican television!

September 28th, 2008 at 3:51 am Stoploss Sweetie says:

i saw st annas and thought it was a little slow but a lot important.

September 28th, 2008 at 4:56 pm BigAaron says:

The Spike Lee movie bombed. We say we want good movies but we do not support them.

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