An unbreakable hero

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Zamperini meets Watanabe for the first time at a prison camp in Tokyo.
Universal Pictures
Zamperini meets Watanabe for the first time at a prison camp in Tokyo.

“Unbroken” is a compelling and inspiring drama based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand and directed by Angelina Jolie. The cast includes Jack O’Connell, Miyavi (Takamasa Ishihara), Domhnall Gleeson and Garrett Hedlund.

“Unbroken” tells the story of an Olympic champion Louis Zamperini (O’Connell), who enlists in the army after during World War II. His plane crashes in the ocean, stranding him with several other men. Only Louis and colleagues named Mac and Phil survive. Mac almost immediately becomes a pessimist, believing that they weren’t going to survive. Louis tells him that he is wrong and believes that someone will find them eventually. He never gives up hope.

They endure 47 days by eating raw bird, fish and shark meat while floating a raft, which is a disturbing scene. Mac is the first to die. Phil and Louis wrap him up in blankets from the emergency kit and saying their goodbyes by easing him into the ocean, which forces them to face reality. The two men soon find themselves awakened by shouting, and they realize they have been found by the Japanese navy. They are completely shocked and a little terrified.

During their interrogation, Louis becomes frustrated when he hears Phil being whipped and can do nothing about it. They are taken to Tokyo, where they meet Sgt. Watanabe. Louis’ first encounter with him ends in a broken nose for looking Watanabe in the eye.

During the time he is being constantly abused by Watanabe, Louis becomes zombie-like, but with the encouragement of the other soldiers, he comes to realize he can’t give up. He remembers what his brother told him: “If you can take it, you can make it.” He manages to stay strong throughout everything he experiences. The Americans return home after they come to find out the war is over, and Louis is reunited with his friends and family.

At the end of the film, the epilogue tells us that both Louis and Phil survived, and they both married soon after returning to the United States. Louis suffered from PTSD for several years. Watanabe stayed in hiding for several years and was officially known as a war criminal. Louis died in 2014. The “Unbroken” story is a tragic tale about hatred leading to war and the unforgettable courage of Zamperini, who is seen as a true hero.