Last month we got news that Spike Lee is making a WWII film, adapted from James McBride's novel Miracle at St. Anna, which will prominently feature African American soldiers. When the controversial filmmaker made the announcement in Italy, he of course made a point about Hollywood's ignorance of African Americans in war films. Now that he's back there scouting locations for the movie, he's continuing to publicly criticize the history of American cinema. This time around, Lee brought with him an 82-year-old WWII vet named William Perry, either as a tool for his cause or as a consultant, or as both. The filmmaker was also joined by an Italian vet named Moreno Costa, who fought on the side of the U.S as an anti-Fascist partisan.
It is disappointing that African Americans have been poorly represented in pre-Vietnam war films. Attempts to spotlight the minority contribution, though, has also been equally disappointing. Just witness how badly the race balance is forced in films like Windtalkers, Flyboys and Pearl Harbor. There is no guarantee that Lee's WWII movie will be any less heavy handed, but I'm looking forward to it at least being a better film (along the lines of Glory and Days of Glory, at least). Until we get to see if this is true, Lee will likely be finding any chance he can to criticize Hollywood's ignorance of African American soldiers. So, by the time we do see the film, we will have difficulty not perceiving it as being heavy handed, even if it isn't. Of course, we all know that it will be.