Spike Lee's World War II thriller to hit screens Friday

By Steve Mathie
Staff Writer
FilmingLocations.com


As the second decade of the millennium nears, World War II veterans around the globe are becoming less and less, an unfortunate and harsh reality that can’t be denied and can’t be stopped.

While historians write books that pay tribute to the greatest generation and tell the unparalleled stories of their time, the motion picture industry has always brought to life the event that shook the whole world forever - The Second World War.

Steven Spielberg has lead the way, Clint Eastwood has followed in his footsteps. Numerous filmmakers have made noble films and documentaries in recent years that tell the stories of fallen heroes, lost love, tragedies and miracles of WWII.

Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna hits theatres this weekend, and tells a story that for the most part, has gone undocumented in popular WWII history.

Lee adopted the script from James McBride’s novel and screenplay, which tells the story of four African-American soldiers fighting in the 92nd Infantry Division in Italy – an all black division of about 15,000 men.

Lee cast Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso and Omar Benson Miller to perpetuate the role of the four soldiers who become separated from their unit and caught in a Tuscan village behind enemy lines after one of the men risked their own life to save an Italian boy.

To ensure the historical accuracy both McBride and Lee had to go the extra yard for the authenticity. Duplicating historical events that happened over 60 years ago requires talking to people that were there, researching exactly what did happen, examining cultural and political impacts of the events that occurred, and finding individuals in modern day society that are somehow impacted by those events.

McBride spent half a year in Italy meeting local people, studying the history, and learning of the long-lasting effects that the battle at St. Anna has had.

Of course, filming on location in the spot where the actual Sant’Anna di Stazzema massacre happened was essential, and according to some of the cast members Spike Lee ended up on location in the freezing cold Serchio River. The same cast that Lee felt it necessary to put through a grueling two week boot camp led by Senior Military Advisor Billy Budd.

Lee used authentic filming locations in Italy and at home in New York for Miracle at St. Anna, which begins screening on Friday in the United States.

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