4 years ago5,000+ Views
You all may have heard about or seen the trailers for a new inspirational movie coming out this Christmas called "Unbroken." It's directed by Angelina Jolie and adapted by the Coen brothers. The movie is adapted by a book by Laura Hillenbrand. I included it in my Top December Movies (, not because of the movie itself, but the amazing true story it portrays. Many people may not know that "Unbroken" tells the story of a real Olympian and veteran named Louis "Louie" Zamperini who survived a series of incredibly harrowing ordeals during WWII. Zamperini was a New Yorker born in 1917 to Italian immigrants. He became addicted to running in school and went on to be a distance runner in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he roomed with the legendary Jesse Owens and met Adolf Hitler. One documentary says that during those Olympics, Zamperini climbed a flag pole and stole Hitler's personal flag. His tenacity was evidenced in his running - two years later, in 1938, he broke a national collegiate record while running with cuts to his shins from competitors trying to sabotage him. Zamperini's military career began when he enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in 1941. He earned a commission as a second lieutenant. Zamperini was deployed on the Pacific front to Japan as a bomber. It was here that his greatest ordeal began. In 1943, his bomber named "Super Man" was damaged beyond flight capacity in a battle at the Japanese-held island of Nauru. Zamperini and the rest of the crew were reassigned to a rescue mission on a plane that crashed into the ocean several hundred miles south of Oahu. Three of the 11 crew members survived, including Zamperini. He and his crewmates survived at sea for 47 days (one man died after 33 days), living off of what they could get from the fish and fowl around them, and fighting off attacks from sharks and navigating storms. Finally, they reached land at the Marshall Islands, but their trials were far from over. The two crewmates were soon captured by the Japanese and taken between several POW camps where they endured beatings and other hardships until the end of the war in 1945, including severe mistreatment by a prison guard later named among one of the 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. He had been listed as killed in action a year after being lost at sea, but was able to return home a survivor. He married the next year to a woman with whom he stayed until her death in 2001. Zamperini survived several years of trauma from the ordeal, and found a way to move forward by turning to Christianity in 1949. With help from the famous evangelist Billy Graham, Zamperini turned his experience into public speaking, primarily championing the theme of forgiveness. He didn't only speak these words - he put it into action. Amazingly, Zamperini eventually visited many of the prison guards from his days as a POW to offer them his forgiveness - some of whom were moved to conversion by his genuine affection and generosity for those who put him through so much pain. He lived to be 97 years old, passing away from pneumonia just this year, on July 2, 2014. There's so much more to the story of this amazing man, and I'm just barely getting started on learning about him. I am planning to read several books about his experiences in addition to watching the movie. If you'd also like to read about Zamperini, here are some sources: Zamperini's memoirs: "Devil at My Heels: The Story of Louis Zamperini," written with Helen Itria. "Devil at My Heels: A World War II Hero's Epic Saga of Torment, Survival, and Forgiveness" written with David Rensin. (Similar title but apparently wholly different book) The biography from which the new movie is adapted: "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand (author of "Seabiscuit") Image credits:, Huffington Post
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I wanted to watch the movie and it's way more awesome that AJ directed "Unbroken."