Unbroken – The book and the movie

posted Apr 14, 2015, 1:06 PM by Bruce Gaughran   [ updated Feb 21, 2019, 1:59 PM ]
Watching the movie, “Unbroken”, was interesting, emotional and disappointing at the same time. The movie is based upon the bestselling 2010 non-fiction book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. I knew there was no way Ms. Jolie (Director and Producer) could tell the entire story of Olympian and WWII survivalist Louie Zamperini.

The book, written by Laura Hillenbrand, did a wonderful job of telling his story from childhood through most of his adult life. It was difficult to imagine the mental, emotional and physical punishment Louie went through, but Ms. Hillenbrand pulled it off very well. At times, it was raw with emotion – tearing at your heartstrings. The 473 pages wore you down, but kept you reading–wanting to know what else could happen to this man.

The movie focused on Zamperini’s survival at sea and at the prison camps with a couple of backstories to fill in some of the gaps. These survival scenes were well done. They captured the pain, anguish and frustration of trying to endure unimaginable conditions and atrocities. Jack O'Connell as Louis "Louie" Zamperini did a remarkable job of making you ‘feel his pain’. And, Takamasa Ishihara, the actor who played the Japanese corporal, Mutsuhiro "Bird" Watanabe, made this movie even more real. The book’s portrayal of this corporal had you hating him and hoping for some vindication for his brutality. I was worried the movie wouldn’t be able to pull this off, but Ms. Jolie did a good job of casting and Takamasa Ishihara made you a believer. As with most movies, some scenes were changed and others condensed or combined, but Ms. Jolie plastered Louie’s story of survival across the screen repeatedly.

Warning: The book as well as the movie are not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Yet, it is a story that needed to be told.