Saturday, January 3, 2015

"If I can take it I can make it."

This has already been reviewed on many other blogs, but I felt like doing my own.

Over the holidays I went and saw Unbroken, the WWII POW story directed by Angelina Jolie and staring Jack O'Connell. I first heard of this story when I saw the trailer while watching another movie, though I don't remember which. I started to read the book, then convinced my whole family we had to go and see the movie. It didn't take a lot of convincing since they all like WWII stories. Especially true ones, though there are times in Unbroken where it is hard to remember that it is all true.

The story is about Louis Zamperini, a bombardier who's plane goes down in the ocean while he and his crew are on a rescue mission. Everyone but he, his pilot Phil, and another crew member Mac, die in the crash. Louie, Phil, and Mac end up adrift, Mac surviving for 33 days and Louie and Phil for 47 before the two of them are picked up by the Japanese. They are taken to a POW camp but later separated. After their separation, Louie becomes subject to singled out beatings by one of the guards whom the POWs call the Bird. What follows is Louie's survival story as he fights to make it through the war and back home to his family.

This movie is amazing and by far one of my favorite WWII stories. Maybe my all time favorite movie. Louie's story is painful, but inspiring. Everything he went through, and then only to go back after the war - after becoming a Christian - and forgive his captives has literately changed my life. As I mentioned, there were things in the film that seem unbelievable, but after reading the book I have discovered the film toned things down. The beatings Louie went through were worse in real life then what was shown in the movie, and he was more singled out as well. Even the Bird admitted it later in an interview, saying "I wasn't given military orders. Because of my personal feelings, I treated the prisoners strictly as enemies of Japan. Zamperini was well known to me. It he says he was beaten by Watanabe, then such a thing probably occurred at the camp, if you consider my personal feelings at the time." (pg. 404, Unbroken)

The acting was amazing. I hadn't heard of any of the actors before. (Well, I hadn't thought so anyways. When I looked later I realized that Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Phil, also played Bill Whesley in Harry Potter.) Each of the actors put so much into the movie, I don't think I've seen a better acting job, and if I have it has been a while. (Wait, I have, in The Winter Soldier. But this was better because they were telling a true story.) Listening to the interviews later, you get an even better idea how passionate they were to tell the story.

Because of the time frame the movie had to play in, some of the men in the POW camps that Louie met weren't mentioned by name. Fitzgerald was at least, which made me happy, and having read the book I spotted some of the others, such as Harris. So even though they didn't get a chance to use their names, they were there.

Overall this movie is just breathtaking. I have plans to go and see it again, that is how much I liked it. The hard work put into it, and the story they told...just Louie's life in one of the most inspiring I've ever seen or read. As a friend keeps saying, it better win some Oscars. 

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