Monday, February 16, 2015


Unbroken - 137min - PG13

I have seen solder bio pictures back to back (American Sniper). This one tells the story of Louis Zamperini. He was an Olympian who served in World War II as a bombardier. I think out of the two this one gives us a message, whereas the other was very message neutral. We see a person's struggle to survive but also to forgive. With many war films the overall tone of the picture is dark. They take a toll on me as a viewer. This one wasn't as soul crushing as American Sniper. It's a fine film. The story is good but due to some poor editing choices it earns a Yellow light.

During World War II a bomber crashes into the ocean, Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) and two other crew members have to survive until they are rescued. 45 days later they are picked up by a Japanese navy ship. Louis is sent to a prison camp and fights a battle of wills with the post commander Watanabe (Takamasa Ishihara).

The strongest message in this picture is how powerful forgiveness is. This message is brought to light at the end so we can see the impact of the impact of one act of forgiveness. Mr. Zamperini took a trip back to Japan and forgave his captors for what they did to him. As this picture focused on his brutal treatment the viewer starts to develop the same feelings as Mr. Zamperini. If put in the same position I don't know if I would have been able to forgive.

The lost opportunity was in showing the fact that he forgave his captors on a placard at the end of the film. There is also news footage of him carrying the Olympic torch through the streets. It would have taken about as much time to show him as an old man standing in front of the location where he was in prisoned and even talking with some of the Japanese people talking about forgiveness.

Watching the cast deteriorate before our eyes during the 47 day sea voyage is hard, not to mention the unquantifiable time in solitary confinement as prisoners of war. These were the most grueling parts of the film. The choices that were made for shots lengthen the journey but may not strengthen the story. Angelina Jolie shows wonderful skill in directing films. I may not agree with the choices she made as story teller but her work is good.

The stand out point in the film was the scene where Mr. Zamperini had to stand and hold a beam over his head. Most of that emotion was brought by the two stars Jack O'Connell and Takamasa Ishihara. The battle of wills that climaxes in that scene is well played. The agony of the horrors that Watanabe inflicted on Louis not going to break his spirit and he knew it.

It's kind of cool that at its core this is a movie about a man and his faith. It's not overdone, only mentioned in passing. This is an element that other Christian films seem to be lacking. To steal a line from President Clinton, "We should impress them with the strength of our example, not the example of our strength." If the Christian filmmakers want to draw more people to the theater they need to highlight people who live Christian values and not deliver a 2 hour sermon.

What if anything would you change in the story of unbroken? Take this time to be an armchair quarterback.

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