Unbroken: one man’s strength in the face of immense suffering

By Ashley Vitale
Contributing Writer

On Christmas Day, Director Angelina Jolie’s film “Unbroken” introduced audiences to former Olympian and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell). “Unbroken” begins with Zamperini’s childhood as the rebellious son of Italian immigrants, traces his rise to stardom as one of the fastest runners of the century, and follows him through his time as a U.S. fighter pilot and prisoner of war (POW) in a Japanese prison camp.

O’Connell gives a poignant portrayal of one man who refuses to be defeated—always responding to circumstances in the way his brother Pete (John D’Leo; Alex Russell) taught him. “If you can take it, you can make it,” Pete would say while they were training for a race. In Mutsushiro Watanabe (Takamasa Ishihara), Zamperini faces both a fierce competitor and an enemy. Watanabe, after meeting Zamperini as an opponent at the Olympics, finds himself the leader of his prison camp. Filled with rage at the war and at his own failures, he subjects Zamperini to intense torture and humiliation to break his body and spirit.

This film is not for the faint of heart. War violence abounds, and the sheer tragedy is enough to make audiences turn their faces; however, we could definitely afford to be reminded that adversity comes into our lives not to break us but to make us unbreakable. In the words of Pete Zamperini, “A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory.”

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