Someone recently told me (I think Nancy) that Spike Lee called Clint Eastwood out on the fact that his two major World War II features included no African-Americans, and Clint Eastwood’s response was “well the guys who raised the flag were all white.” And I have to say Clint Eastwood’s response is LAME, and that after seeing “Miracle at St. Anna,” I think Spike Lee rules. How bad is it that black men died fighting for the U.S. in World War II and yet never get shout-outs? (The other case of non-white folks fighting for the U.S. I’ve heard of was the Hmong people in Cambodia during/after Vietnam; they were promised veteran status including benefits in the U.S. Didn’t happen.)
And so I’m glad that Spike Lee made a movie where you see the 92nd Infantry Division, the only all African-American division who saw combat, dealing with racism on in U.S. restaurants and risking their butts in battle. Ugh, and I have to tell you, the opening battle is so incredibly moving that it’s profoundly anti-war (the whole film is). This sequence beats “Saving Private Ryan.” (I know, many men were touched by that massacre scene, but I just found it graphic and oddly clinical.)
But beyond fulfilling the need to tell the whole story, the story is surprisingly empathetic to all people, regardless of race or side of the war, and whatever, Spike Lee is an awesome filmmaker. I’m in awe of his talent. And this picture blew me away! I bawled through the whole thing.
Many years later, I still think about the opening sequence of “He Got Game,” which was a series of vignettes of boys and girls all around the country scoring a basket to Aaron Copland’s music. It was just so cool.