UNBROKEN: A movie review
BY EMILY KLINEFELTER AND JENNIFER BARNETT
July is the perfect time to look into all the patriotic movies available to us- there are many! We chose Unbroken, as it was a new release at Redbox.
Please email us if you need recommendations because we have hundreds. As you may have figured out by now, Jen and I like to dedicate our dinner, during a movie, to one of the stars. For this dinner we dedicated it to Angelina Jolie so we had her favorite: McDonald’s and Tequila! We usually like to recommend snacks suitable for your optimal viewing pleasure but given the subject matter of this film there really was anything that came to mind.
Now Angelina was not in this film, but we choose her because we have a “female crush” on her and because she was the director. This was her first time directing a major studio film, but it was her second film as a director. We wanted to honor her with our dinner because it was noted that Jolie really had to fight hard to get this job. It wasn’t just handed to the world’s biggest female star. So, cheers to you Angelina Jolie!
In Unbroken we witness the true making and near breaking of some of America’s finest men.
The movie starts off flying above the Pacific Ocean in a Bomber Plane; the crew – focused on their mission to bomb Japan. As the bombardier lines up his target the plane is attacked. Chaos explodes and all the men take positions to try and destroy the attacking Japanese fighter jets.
We’ve been hit! A lot! They soon discover they no longer have any brakes and to even be able to safely land they would need more yards than the runway had to offer. AHHH!
Flash Back (there are many of these)- Louis “Louie” Zamperini (young: C.J. Valleroy, older: Jack O’Connell) an Italian-American brought up in Torrance, California by his father and mother, along with his older brother and two sisters. His older brother Peter (young: John D’Leo, older: Alex Russell) noticed a potential in the little “alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking, thief” and introduced Louie to running track. Louie later earned the nick name “The Torrance Tornado” and went on to run in 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. “A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory”, is one of our favorite quotes from this movie. You will see how it resonates throughout Louie’s life.
Flash Forward (I told you): By a miracle most of the crew survived, the plane however did not. The men were given a replacement plane that had been parted out to fix other planes. It’s WWII, supplies were limited and substandard. This is one of the reasons why during their next mission they found themselves in a life or death situation above the Pacific… You guessed it – Crash!
Pause – Take a moment… think about your worst sunburn and chapped lips, you’re starving, thirsty and surround by water you can’t drink. Imagine swaying on the ocean in blackness, and every so often a shark fin dragging down your back… Now, drink your beer- apply Chap Stick- take a deep breath- now back to the movie…
It’s now 47 days later… Louie and best friend/pilot Phil (Domhnall Gleeson) awake to a boat! Good news, they were saved; bad news, not by Allies. Question of this moment- If you found two men in a raft, obviously adrift for days, clearly unarmed… why would you need tons of men with pointed guns? Moving on…
Taken ashore and separated, Louie was sent to a Tokyo camp, headed by Mutsuhiro Watanabe (Miyavi) nick named “Bird”. (We don’t know what happened to Phil, which made us sad, we loved Phil.) “Bird” almost instantly had it in for Louie. We believe it was partially because of Louie’s former status as an Olympian. “Bird” was unstable and demented. He was impulsive when it came to his aggression and anger yet at times seemed remorseful after beatings. His methods of torture included both physically and mentally breaking the men. Their self-worth his favorite target. It was hard to watch at times but helped that we knew the outcome. Since this is a true story, we won’t be giving anything away when we say- we won the war! Louie makes it home, but does Phil? You’ll have to watch! This is where the movie ends and where we chanted, more!
Because we like you, we will give you some closure…
Emily read the book. So we know – Louie goes on to build a life the best he can. Eventually, after struggling for years from alcoholism and nightmares (PTSD) Louie found himself attending one of Billy Graham’s services, reminding him of his prayers during his time on the raft and imprisonment. By accepting Christ into his heart he was able to become sober, his nightmares ceased, and he even forgave all his captors. “Bird” made it on the top 40 most-wanted Japanese War Criminals. You will have to read the book for his unhappy ending.
1988, nearly 81, Louie ran a leg of the Olympic Torch relay (not far from one of the POW camps he was held in) for the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan and passed on before the film was completed at age 97.
We believe that Angelina did a superb job illustrating the strength in the human spirit in this movie. There were moments when we thought the men would get a break and then there were times when it seemed all hope was lost. It was an emotional rollercoaster! It was not an easy movie to watch, at times. We also found it motivational – it certainly put things into perspective. It made us think. Everyone should see this movie once in their lifetime.
Let us know – What did you think of the movie? What did you think of the book? What questions came to your mind while watching/reading? We want to hear from you! Email editor@Southportmag.com or go to our Facebook page. Let’s start a conversation!