“Unbroken” Is a Horrific Hero’s Story from World War II, Directed by Angelina Jolie [Berkshire on Stage]

December 31st, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
A beaten but unbowed Jack O’Connell as Zamperini.

A beaten but unbowed Jack O’Connell as Zamperini.

Film review by Larry Murray

The World War II drama Unbroken opened on Christmas Day and marks Angelina Jolie’s second directorial effort. The film is solid in an old fashioned way, and will likely be popular, especially with those who love blood, bashing and brave heroes who speak in slogans and sound bites. To me, while based on a true story, it is a formula film that seems more in the spirit of the other film it most resembles, The Passion of the Christ. We love to see our heroes beaten up on the screen, especially if they are suffering for a good cause.

Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a Los Angeles high school track star who raced in the 1936 Berlin Olympics on the U.S. team that included Jesse Owens. In 1943, his Air Force plane crashed in the Pacific. He survived without food and water for 47 days, enduring shark attacks, aerial attacks and hunger before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years and tortured by his captors.

In the film, Zamperini the prisoner is seen enduring excruciating pain as he holds a wooden crossbar aloft for what seems like hours. He is also beaten mercilessly by the other prisoners who are ordered to shower punch after punch on him “in order to teach him respect” by the prison camp commander. But he was far from a saint. As a child he was constantly getting into trouble, stealing, running from the police and enduring the bullying of his classmates.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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