“Unbroken” a winning version of a remarkable life


Raider Times photo / Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Jack O’Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in “Unbroken”.

Cristopher Patvakanian, Raider Times staff

“Unbroken” is a movie for all. Whether you’re a track fan, a war story fanatic, or simply a lover of inspiring films, it’s a must see.

The movie is based on the New York Times bestseller, “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand. While the book is a good read for most middle-school-aged kids and up, the movie does have quite a few intense scenes and those under 12 should probably stick to the text for now.

“Unbroken” tells the true story of war hero and Olympic track star Louis Zamperini. It begins with a look at Louis’s troubled childhood. He and his newly immigrated Italian family moved to Torrance, Calif., in the early 1920s, where he faced harassment from other kids for not being able to speak English.

The fights with bullies, in combination with his passion for making mischief, earned Louis a bad reputation in town, but his brother Pete helped him turn his life around. Pete trained Louis to channel this energy into running, and that’s when Zamperini discovered his talent.

Running, specifically the mile, came naturally to Louis. He ended up being extremely successful in track throughout middle and high school, setting him up for the Olympic stage. But, after his debut in 1936, the emergence of World War II took Louis’s journey on a twisted turn.

Zamperini ended up enlisting in the Air Force, and the conflict began to hijack his life. Fighting in the war tested Louis’s limits and brought out an extraordinary internal, as well as external, strength.

His adventures and hardships are masterfully preserved in the book, leaving the reader with wise lessons on human capacity, bravery, and forgiveness.

Director Angelina Jolie and her team of writers had the difficult job of trying to adapt “Unbroken” for the silver screen. Despite the challenge, the team brought to life the incredible story of this American hero in a reverential yet intriguing manner.

There are, however, some key differences between the book and movie, the most obvious being the length. The 437-page book had so many experiences and details that if all were included in the movie, they would easily add an extra two hours. So for that reason, there were a lot of moments that didn’t make the final cut.

Another distinction between the formats was the story’s portrayal. In the book, Hillenbrand used a flowing chronological order to guide the reader through Zamperini’s life event by event, while the movie often had distracting flashbacks, temporarily interrupting moments of suspense.

Nonetheless, the unbroken spirit of Louis Zamperini was respectfully showcased and remembered in this film, earning it a well-deserved 8 out of 10 stars.

–Dec. 25, 2014–