Way back in 2004, we brought you word that Spike Lee was interested in making a movie about black soldiers in Italy in WWII. With an Inside Man and a When The Levees Broke under his belt, it seems that Spike can finally get this movie made. Hooray!
The movie will be based on Walter McBride’s novel Miracle at St. Anna, which is about ‘the true tale of four members of the U.S. army's 92nd division of all-black soldiers, who in 1944 became trapped in a Tuscan village, as they contended with their racist, incompetent commanders and the Nazis,’ according to Variety.
Spike sees this film as an answer to Clint Eastwood’s recent WWII movies. "I met a black veteran who fought at Iwo Jima, and he told me how disappointed he was that there was not even one Afro-American (soldier) in Clint Eastwood's two films," he told Italian newspaper La Repubblica. To be fair to Clint, there are black dudes in uniforms standing around on a boat before the beach landing, but Spike's really talking about the lack of black soldiers on that beach.
And in general, Spike has a point – the black experience in WWII remains incredibly underrepresented in popular culture, especially film. Hell, Gabriel Jones from the Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos comic is one of the few notable fictional black soldiers I can think of from that war.
This is going to be a big budget production, and I’m excited to see what Spike does with it. I’m almost a Spike Lee apologist (no one can claim She Hate Me is any good, though), and I think he’s one of the most brilliant and ballsy filmmakers today. I love the idea of him stepping outside of his comfort zone and doing a big war movie.
Miracle at St. Anna starts shooting next year in Italy.