Unbroken (M)

In a word: Harrowing

"While Unbroken tells an amazing story of survival, the film only deals somewhat superficially with Zamperini's search for faith and one can't escape the feeling that there's a bigger story to be told here, particularly as the credits start to roll."

Unbroken – which tells the powerful story of survival during World War II of US Olympian Louis "Louie" Zamperini – is not an easy film to watch. But it’s certainly worth doing so.

It’s easy, in that sense, to see why Angelina Jolie fought for the job of director – based on the 2011 book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand, this is a story that had to be told on the big screen (be warned that if you want to go to the film without knowing any more about the plot, stop reading now).

An Italian-American, Zamperini (played by Jack O'Connell) was a tearaway child until his brother Peter, eager to set him set on the right path, helped encourage his love of running. Fueled by his anger, Louis learnt to push himself beyond his limits and this eventually led him to run in the Berlin Olympics in 1936 where against the odds he beat the US champion Don Lash.


Planning to return at the next games, he instead ended up serving as a bombadier on a US plane. It’s probably not giving too much away to say that his plane went down on a rescue mission over the Pacific and after an amazing survival - 47 days at sea, he fell into the hands of the Japanese.

Imprisoned in a camp in Japan under the brutal treatment of the camp's commander known as 'The Bird' (played by Takamasa Ishihara), he was forced to draw on his experience as an endurance runner to push himself beyond what we would normally expect of any human, determined to survive the toughest of ordeals.

While Unbroken tells an amazing story of survival, the film only deals somewhat superficially with Zamperini's search for faith and one can't escape the feeling that there's a bigger story to be told here, particularly as the credits start to roll. They tell how, having credited God with his survival (he gave his life to Christ at a Billy Graham rally in 1949), Zamperini, who died last year, suffered through years of post traumatic stress before he eventually forgave his captors (and even returned to Japan to meet most of them and run in the Winter Olympics torch relay in 1998).

There's another film here - and potentially an even more powerful one. For it's one thing to survive - but it's another thing entirely to be able to forgive those responsible for such an horrific experience. And that's certainly a story worth telling.

~ www.unbrokenfilm.com