コラム:パリジェンヌの東京映画レポート! - 第3回



Mystery at St. Anna

Previewed at the Deauville Festival of American Films and the Cinematheque francaise in 2008, 「Miracle at St. Anna」 by Spike Lee was to be released in October 2008 in France. But the distributor TFM suddenly decided to call the whole thing off. Since then, speculations are flying around in the small world of French cinema, but the mystery remains unsolved. I was lucky enough to see it in Tokyo but I’m still wondering : why are French spectators deprived of Spike Lee?


Some put forward its theme and Lee’s involvement. Indeed, based on James McBride’s novel, Miracle at Santa Anna unequivocally reminds the role of African-American soldiers during WWII thanks to the story of four black soldiers fighting against Germans as well as their own racist general staff. It reminds the movie 「Indigenes」which introduced men from North African colonies called up to defend the French “homeland”, in which they had never set foot before... Indigenes voluntarily created a controversy with a (successful) petition aiming at the release of the 60-year frozen pensions of Moroccan soldiers. But despite its accusations against French authorities, it was not banned; why should Lee’s movie be?

However, far from showing a Manichean conflict, the movie does not spare Italian Resistance fighters. Indeed, it deals with the slaughter of 560 Tuscan villagers by Nazis in 1944. Faithful to the original book, the movie links the massacre to a Resistance fighter betrayal, whereas the post-war military court had decided it was an arbitrary mopping-up operation. Thus, Spike Lee was taxed with revisionism and historical falsification and communist leaders called for the withdrawal of a scene. This could have explained an Italian censorship... not a French ban.

TFM’s decision could be of an economical nature : as the movie received scant critical acclaim abroad and the distributor recently encountered some flops, it could have chosen not to take a risk. But the dubbing was completed, the promotion and the first showings had begun, the fans were waiting for it. The French audience would not have ignored a movie signed “Spike Lee”, let alone a polemic one!


Anyway, French spectators probably would have liked to form their own opinion... Apart from the debate about the acknowledgment of the American Buffalo Soldiers, Spike Lee’s movie mostly shows how the line between good and bad guys may be shaky : German soldiers are sometimes bloodthirsty beasts, sometimes fathers and husbands with the same homecoming desire than the others; Italian people have to cooperate with the German army, but a deep friendship between an Italian orphan and an American“chocolate giant” springs up. What a pity that we cannot see it at home! Coming to Japan is a wonderful experience, but still a long trip only for a movie...

By the way, there is another never raised explanation for the mystery of St. Anna: why would it not be a huge international conspiracy between peer-to-peer website companies and travel agencies? Indeed, the best-resolved French spectators have only two possibilities to see the forbidden movie yet: downloading it illegally on the Web or heading for greener pastures like United-States or Japan... It is worth considering, isn’t it?




4人のアフロアメリカン兵士と、ドイツ敵軍及び自軍の差別主義な指揮官との闘争が描かれる本作は、第79回アカデミー賞外国語映画賞にノミネートされたアルジェリア・フランス・モロッコ・ベルギー合作の「Indigenes」(英題は「Days of Glory」)を思い起こさせます。「Indigenes」は、フランスのナチス抗戦のため、北アフリカ植民地の兵士たちをフランスに従軍させるという史実に基づいたストーリーで物議を醸しましたが、公開中止にまでは至りませんでした。では何故、リーの映画が公開中止になったのでしょう?

本作は原作に基づき、ナチスによるトスカーナの大虐殺に言及しているのですが、これがスパイク・リーによる歴史の改ざんとして非難されました。でもなぜこれがフランスでの上映に支障が出るのでしょう? おそらくTFMの決定には経済的な要因があるのかもしれません。失敗作を抱えこんでいた配給会社ですから、リスクを冒してまで配給する理由がなかったのです。でも本作を待ちわびていたフランスの映画ファンは黙ってはいられません! 日本に来られたことはとても素晴らしいことですが、それが1本の映画を見るためだとしたら遠すぎます……。