Unbroken is a Powerful Movie Based on a True Story

Written by Edwin L. Carpenter on . Posted in Local

unbroken225Angelina Jolie takes a stab at directing a film about a Christian Olympian that was taken by the Japanese as a P.O.W. and she does a pretty good job with it. Unbroken is the name of the movie and it is based on the true story of Louis Zamperini. The movie portrays him as a rebellious youth that drank and smoked but we are shown his praying mother and her prayers work! Following the Olympics Louis is stranded at sea on a raft with two others after their plane went down during the war. Louis (portrayed very strongly by Jack O’ Connell) prays to God and promises that he will follow God if he is spared from a terrible storm. There is a torrential downpour that endangers the small raft and the little group, but the prayer works and Louis is spared. He spends some 45 days on the raft and he and Phil suffer dried, cracked lips, hunger and thirst, in addition to the loss of their third companion. Oh, they have to deal with sharks too as well as a plane that shoots at their raft from the sky.

Though Louis survives it is not a bed of roses he is destined for. Louis and his friend Phil (Domhnall Gleeson) are captured by Japanese soldiers and sent to a P.O.W. camp. There they are humiliated by having to strip down naked in front of the soldiers. It is at this camp that Louis meets Corporal Watanabe (Takamasa Ishihara), and the corporal takes a strong disliking to Louis. He seems to be jealous of the inner strength he sees in him. Louis later attributes this strength to knowing that God is with him. He remembers the words of his older brother, “Take it and you’ll make it.” Watanabe beats Louis with a stick, kicks him, and makes Louis’ fellow soldiers punch him, one at a time. He threatens to kill his friend Phil if the others don’t cooperate.

Watanabe later is moved to another camp, a “promotion” to sergeant, and Louis and his companions are moved to the same camp! There Watanabe makes a tired Louis, after carrying heavy loads all day while working, lift a heavy piece of wood onto his shoulders and tells his soldiers to shoot him if he drops it. Louis finds the inner strength again, given by God, and hoists the heavy log above his head and stares at Watanabe in defiance. He has a powerful effect on his fellow prisoners, who stop to watch him, and even on Watanabe, who becomes livid when he sees this miraculous demonstration of strength.

Eventually rescued following the end of the war, archived footage is shown of Louis as are photos of his wife and his life after the war. In fact, Louis just passed away this year. His story is one of triumph and overcoming. Unfortunately, the film does contain one use of God’s name in vain, in addition to rear male nudity when Louis and Phil strip down. There are also a few scenes of bloody violence. I wish the filmmakers would have held back on these things and would have told their story in a more family-friendly way. Still, it is a powerful story about a man that followed his powerful God. It runs 137 minutes and is rated PG-13.

Watch the trailer

Author Information
Edwin L. Carpenter
Edwin L. Carpenter is a pastor and long-time film reviewer for Dove.org He has a bachelors degree in Writing from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was raised in Brighton, Mich., by Christian grandparents and has a twin brother, Bill, who is also an ordained minister. Ed and his wife Jackie have one child, Daniel, who is newly married to Kristen and loves sports.

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