A chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.
“Unbroken” is a powerful movie, especially considering that it is based on a true story. Louis Zamperini was a strong-willed child, experimenting as a teen with drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. However, he was raised by loyal parents who disciplined yet loved him. His mother prayed for him and Louis often saw her doing so without her knowing he was watching. His brother Pete saw in Louis an ability to run, and to run fast. He encouraged him to train and, sure enough, Louis began to break his high school’s records with his swift running. Soon he found himself headed to the Olympics.
The film focuses a lot on the suffering Louis eventually encountered. He entered World War II and was on a plane that lost its engines and crashed into the water. He and two friends survive on a raft, dealing with storms, sharks, thirst and hunger. During one particularly bad storm, with the water almost overturning the raft, Louis promises God he will follow Him if God allows him to survive. He does survive, although one companion dies a few days later. They wind up on the raft for some 45 days. Louis and his companion, Phil (Domhnall Gleeson), are found by Japanese soldiers and soon Louis finds himself in a POW camp. The commander, Corporal Watanabe (Takamasa Ishihara), sees a strength in Louis he is jealous of, and proceeds to inflict bodily pain and suffering on him, striking him repeatedly with a stick and at one point having the entire prison group punch Louis, one man at a time. They are ordered to do so or Louis’ friend Phil will be killed. Jack O’Connell is absolutely fantastic and convincing as Louis, as is Ishihara as Watanabe. The suffering of the men includes dealing with frigid temperatures without coats, unlike the Japanese soldiers.
Louis faces even more trials, including lifting a large piece of wood and holding it without dropping it after a full day’s work. Watanabe tells his soldiers to shoot Louis if he drops it. But Louis even endures this indignity. He says it is his belief that God is with him and enables him to overcome. He quotes a phrase his brother once used: Take it to make it.
Angelina Jolie shows herself to be very capable in directing the film. The themes include loyalty to God, family, and the ability to persevere by keeping hope alive. Sadly, the strong language and rear male nudity prevent us from awarding the movie our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.