Miracle at St. Anna
By Renee Longstreet,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Brutal WWII battlefield fable isn't for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Some white American soldiers' blatantly cruel racism is tempered by the decency of other soldiers and officers; African-American soldiers are shown as courageous, heroic, and smart; a slow-witted soldier is depicted as brave, sensitive, and humane; the brutality of war is unsentimental and undisguised; a vengeful murder is seen as justifiable and satisfying.
Violence & Scariness
Explicit wartime brutality includes use of grenades and rifles, bloody deaths, severed limbs, and point-blank shooting. A savage massacre of an entire village in front of a church includes a close-up of a priest as he's shot in the head and graphic murders of children, women, and the elderly. A young boy is in jeopardy in many scenes throughout the movie. Also stabbings, a throat slashing, and several ambushes resulting in mass murder of unsuspecting villagers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A provocatively dressed young woman engages in seductive behavior to get her boyfriend's attention; a soldier views the bare breasts of woman preparing to do laundry; a brief scene of passionate sexual foreplay includes kissing, embracing, and undressing, with bare breasts visible.
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Pervasive swearing throughout includes countless use of all forms of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "bastard," "p---y," "sons of bitches," "whore," "goddamn," and more. Frequent use of the "N" word both as a racial taunt by white bigots and between African-American soldiers as "buddy speak."
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Smoking throughout, as was common during the period.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, from start to finish, this is a violent war movie and not meant for kids. Though the filmmakers try to humanize the characters (including portraying a sympathetic Nazi), acts of cruelty, barbaric murder, wounding, and killing are graphically depicted throughout the film. Images include gunshots to the head, severed limbs, the massacre of innocent victims (including many children and babies), and blood gushing from heads and bodies and pooling around lifeless soldiers in the water. A young child is in danger throughout the film. Vicious racism is a continuing theme, and language is frequently crass and explicit (including many uses of both "f--k" and the "N" word). Two scenes show a bare-breasted woman; another includes passionate sexual foreplay.
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Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
Miracle at St. Anna
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What's the Story?
After a major battle in the hills of Italy in the waning days of World War II, four surviving African-American soldiers from the segregated 92nd Infantry Division are caught behind enemy lines. Desperately trying to get back to their company, the men encounter a terrified child and lead him to the safety of a small Tuscan village. Meanwhile, Nazi troops in the vicinity are searching for the local Italian partisan (resistance) leader known as "The Great Butterfly." Ultimately, the four Americans, who are the last hope of the villagers and the advancing American forces, come face-to-face with the enemy -- and with the traitor who has betrayed the partisans.
Is It Any Good?
The story and the performances are heartfelt and powerful in this brutal war film. Talented, versatile director Spike Lee, working from a script by James McBride (who wrote the novel the movie is based on), attempts the almost impossible. MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA is part devastating World War II movie, part political film exposing the notorious racism of much of white America during that time, and part fairy tale in which a child becomes one with his rescuers as his spirit transcends the evil around him.
It's an ambitious goal, and not entirely successful. The movie changes tone and direction too many times, and what suffers most is characterization: The men become archetypes instead of singular individuals. Still, the production is magnificent, and if viewers allow themselves to be transported to that monumental period in America's history, it will be an enlightening and moving experience.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what this movie is saying about American history. What was the country fighting for in World War II? Why were the military troops segregated during that war -- and throughout U.S. history? How has America's racial conscience changed since then? Also, what does Captain Nokes represent? Did he learn anything over the course of the film? How did you feel about him?
- In theaters: September 25, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: February 10, 2009
- Cast: D.B. Sweeney, John Turturro, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Director: Spike Lee
- Inclusion Information: Black directors
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 160 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong war violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.
- Last updated: June 29, 2022
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