Somebody still likes Spike Lee in Italy.
Despite all the animosity stirred by his war drama “Miracle at St. Anna” — which links Italian resistance fighters to a Nazi massacre in the pic’s titular Tuscan village — the mayor of St. Anna, made Lee an honorary citizen last week.
In nearby Viareggio, however, angry anti-fascist partisans picketed a preem of the pic, claiming the helmer hasn’t done the right thing to their history.
While “St. Anna” pays tribute to the unsung role of black American soldiers in World War II, the drama depicts the Nazi massacre of 560 people in 1944 as being prompted by the betrayal of an Italian partisan named Rodolfo, who secretly becomes a Nazi spy.
But an Italian military court ruled in 2005 that the St. Anna slaughter was entirely premeditated by the Germans.
“It’s true that the film depicts a partisan who betrayed civilians,” says St. Anna Mayor Michele Silicani, “But above it is the tale of those partisans who fought to the death to defend civilians.”
Others in the tiny hillside hamlet weren’t buying that rationale.
“I think Spike Lee has received more from St. Anna than he gave,” says Enrico Pieri, a 76-year-old survivor of the massacre that left his mother and brother dead.
Lee and scribe James McBride continue to note that the drama is “fictional,” as noted in pic’s opening frames.