Spike Lee launched a bitter attack on Clint Eastwood yesterday, condemning his failure to include a single African-American soldier in his films about the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The Oscar-nominated African-American director, one of the most influential figures in contemporary cinema, said that black soldiers were conspicuous by their absence from Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. Hundreds took part in the battle for the Japanese island in 1945.
Lee said: “There were many African-Americans who survived that war and who were upset at Clint for not having one [in the films]. That was his version: the negro soldier did not exist. I have a different version.”
He was speaking at a press conference in Cannes, where he gave the world premiere of an eight-minute trailer for his latest feature film, a war drama with which he hopes to set the record straight.
Miracle at St Anna is an epic story about members of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Division, which fought the Germans in Italy.
While refraining from using the word “racist”, Lee said that rewriting Second World War history was typical of Hollywood. The Dirty Dozen was among the few films that showed the contribution made by African-American soldiers, he said. White heroes played by John Wayne and other Hollywood stars had until now overshadowed the sacrifice of brave heroes of colour who laid down their lives for their country, he added.