Miracle At St. Anna

Featured In Issue 139, March/April 2009

WSR Score4.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Touchstone Home Entertainment
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Strong war violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Spike Lee
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Stationed in Tuscany, Italy, four members of the U.S. Army's all-black 92nd Infantry Division, the Buffalo Soldiers, are trapped behind enemy lines after one of them risks his life to save a traumatized Italian boy. Separated from their unit, they find themselves in a remote Tuscan village where they experience the tragedy and the triumph of war. Based on the highly praised novel by James McBride entitled Miracle At St. Anna. (Gary Reber)

Special features include Director Spike Lee and WWII veterans sharing their experiences in the
featurette Deeds Not Words (HD 17:08), The Buffalo Soldier Experience (HD 21:36) featurette on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and firsthand accounts, nine deleted scenes (HD 05:27), and up-front previews.

The 2.37:1 1080p AVC picture quality is fabulous. Stylized with filtered imagery throughout, the overall appearance is yellowish brown, which renders the soldiers' faces naturally but distorts the villagers' fleshtones. Resolution is generally good but a bit soft overall. Interior and nighttime shadow delineation is excellent, with effective highlight lighting. Blacks are deep and solid. The imagery is dim throughout, with limited splashes of sunlight, and effectively communicates the gloom and depression that is war. The veil is lifted in the ending scene, which is gorgeous. This is a pleasing picture that is well photographed. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is well produced and recorded with excellent fidelity. Sound effects are spread wide across the soundstage, with excellent directionalization and pans. Dialogue is either production sound or ADR-produced, with at times, good spatial integration from the stereo channels. At times there is a back-and-forth dimension to the dialogue in the opening war scene. Once fire opens up, the soundfield explodes with an intense holosonic® presence, with loud SPL signals in every channel and deep powerful bass in the LFE .1 channel, with extension to below 25 Hz. The big guns' blasts are aggressively directionalized, and the orchestra sounds intensify—while explicitly violent, this is an extremely exciting scene in the film. The Terence Blanchard orchestral music score is fabulous and recorded to enhance the sense of enveloping space and depth. The war scenes are a standout sonically and deserve reference status. The ending choral piece during the credits is wonderful and should not be missed. (Gary Reber)