Unbroken Shines & Disappoints



Louie Zamperini (1917-2014), whom Unbroken is based on.

Doyle Wang, Staff Writer

Having read the book Unbroken over the last summer break, written a book report over it for the last summer reading assignment, and seen its film adaptation on the day it was released, I can honestly say that I am glad to have seen it. Both movies depict true stories of the iconic American war heroes: former Olympic athlete turned USAAF corpsman Louie Zamperini, who endured a torturous experience as a POW during WWII, and US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who is known to be the most lethal American sniper in history.

Through Unbroken, director Angelina Jolie brings the inspirational life story of Louie Zamperini told in Laura Hillenbrand’s book to the big screen with her usually impressive talent that she has always delivered through her acting as well. Although the acting done by Jack O’Connell, who portrays the film’s subject character and the other actors in the movie are well executed, the 2 hour and 17 minute long motion picture still does not make Louie’s story resonate powerfully enough as it does Hillenbrand’s 473 page book.

While the film does an impressive job of emphasizing its main focus on Louie, it fails to underscore the significance of the role of other major characters in Louie’s life story. In the book, nearly every character in the story are just as easy to follow as Louie himself, and the book’s mentions about their significance in Louie’s life are what make the book so addicting to read. However, the significance of most of these characters are not demonstrated enough when brought to the big screen, and a few supporting characters from the book may not be shown in the movie at all, thus making the experience of watching the movie less inspirational than reading the book. The order in which the movie goes in telling the story is partially different from the order that the book went, which would make it hard for you to follow the story chronologically if you have not already finished the book. Still, these shortcomings of the film do not stop it from keeping your attention.

It was hard to keep my eyes from staying wide open while watching the all-out dogfight that occurs over Wake Island in the first scene of the movie, nor was it easy for me to keeping my mouth from gaping open while witnessing Louie endure the abuses he suffered in the multiple Japanese POW camps he was imprisoned in. The movie’s soundtrack adds to the comely, inspirational tone of the movie, and along with the brilliant acting, keeps the enjoyability of Angelina Jolie’s film adaptation alive and well.

Although I did not get the same powerful astonishment from watching the movie as reading the book, it is still enjoyable at getting to know Louie Zamperini’s legacy and his incredible journey that he lived his entire life, including his ascendency to the Olympics and his darkest hours during the Second World War.The fact that this movie focuses on the exact same theme emphasized in the book is what makes it highly worth watching. Though Unbroken wasn’t as exceptionally inspiring as I wanted it to be, it will still keep your spirits invigorated through its depiction of the persistence of the spiritual will of an American Olympian that emerged unbroken in spite of the horrors of war. Thus, I would still recommend reading the book if you want to get the full inspiration of Louie Zamperini’s life, and I highly urge every Parkview Language Arts teacher to keep Hillenbrand’s book on the rising juniors summer reading list. Theaters are still showing this film right now, so if you have already finished the book like I have, there is no reason for you to miss it.