Miracle at St. Anna Studio: Touchstone Pictures Year: 2008 US Rating: Rated R for Strong War Violence, Language and some Sexual Content/Nudity. Film Length: 160 Mins Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Spanish and French Audio Tracks Subtitles: US Release Date: February 10, 2009 Review Date: February 1, 2009 The Film - out of “I'm the only one left who knows.” Spike Lee is one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation. Not all will agree with that, though many will and I fervently believe they are right. His accomplishments as a gifted filmmaker are matched by his passions as an artist activist – and those qualities are tethered together like a cameraman and his camera – lockstep, twined and merged into a single visionary exploration of issues and art in celluloid form. His work is often unpredictable, at times non-linear and always refreshing – even when he fails. Miracle at St. Anna begins in Harlem, 1983. A postal clerk unexpectedly shoots a customer dead with a German Lugar, a handgun from World War II and detectives find in his closet the head of a statue, the missing Prima Vera taken out of Florence, Italy during the war. The suspect in custody, an ex-soldier, decorated with a purple heart, is questioned by a novice reporter and we are then transported into the war with the 92nd Infantry – Buffalo Soldiers. The soldiers, advancing on the Nazi’s are attacked and all but a few survive. Those who lived made it into the mountains where they find an injured boy, whom they tender care, and a village where they hold up awaiting contact with their commander. What transpires in the village as the four soldiers take stock of the war, their circumstances and the unusual bond one of the soldiers makes with the boy, forms the bedrock upon which this story unfolds. And it is not quite the story you may expect going into this film. As with Spike Lee’s Inside Man, Miracle at St. Anna is a departure of territory for the kinds of stories he has spent his career telling – at least that is how it appears on the surface. Spike Lee directing a war film is in and of itself an intriguing prospect worthy of visiting. But Lee’s style and signature are present throughout. The way he introduces characters, dropping us in their lives with little build up but spending enough time with them to catch us up. The way he intersperses thrilling and dramatic sequences with static shots, relevant shots that remove us from the fluidity of movement to punctuate the moment with a visual exclamation mark. His expression of the narrative, which does not worry about hand-holding the audience and takes the approach that literary works have the liberty to take, is on display. In many ways, he is a writer in the visual medium.