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Spike Lee's War Epic Starts a Battle With Italy

Spike Lee's War Epic Starts a Battle With Italy

When Spike Lee adapted the novel Miracle at St. Anna, he intended to celebrate the memory of African-American soldiers trapped in an Italian village during World War II. He also ended up offending a whole different set of veterans. Italian World War II anti-Fascist partisans have denounced Miracle at St. Anna as full of lies, and insulting to the Italian Resistance.

In August 1944, Nazis killed 560 civilians in the village of Sant' Anna di Stazzema. The tragic episode is featured in the film, which suggests that the anti-Fascist forces indirectly caused the attack by hiding in Sant'Anna, but then fleeing when the Nazis descended. In addition, one character is shown collaborating with the Nazis. The author of the novel answered to the controversy:

I am very sorry if I have offended the partisans. I have enormous respect for them. As a black American, I understand what it's like for someone to tell your history, and they are not you. But unfortunately, the history of World War II here in Italy is ours as well, and this was the best I could do . . . it is after all a work of fiction, not a history book.

Spike Lee seems to think he has fact and fiction on his side, saying to the Italians: "I am not apologizing for anything. [There's] a lot about your history you have yet to come to grips with . . . This film is our interpretation, and I stand behind it.” Since the movie was epically disappointing to BuzzSugar, perhaps the controversy wasn't worth it.


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