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Grace Filley

In the film Unbroken, producer Angelina Jolie tells the true story of a young Louie Zamperini, a captain for the U.S. during the Second World War. 

The movie’s opening scene shows Zamperini and his crew in a B-24 bomber attacking a Japanese base. The men hit their target but are soon caught in return fire by the Japanese Air Force. Zamperini’s plane is hit but the men luckily make it back to base unscathed.

Throughout the movie Jolie introduces the audience into the life Zamperini had growing up. As an Italian immigrant, it was difficult for him to adjust to life in America, but with the help of his brother, Zamperini realized his true potential. 

“If you can take it, you can make it.” That was something Louie’s older brother tells him to inspire his younger brother to keep working harder to achieve his goals, which included being a runner. Zamperini took this to heart and worked harder each day ultimately earning a place to run in the Olympics.

Back in the war, during a rescue mission, Zamperini’s plane suffers engine failure and crashes into the Pacific Ocean. He and his to crewmates, Phil and Mac, are the only survivors. The men spend grueling days on a life raft out at sea with limited water and no food or shelter from the harsh conditions. 

After 47 days at sea, the Japanese find this life raft with only two men still alive. The remaining two, Phil and Zamperini, are tortured with physical beatings and isolation in an effort to get information from them. Later, the men are separated and moved to two different camps. Here, Zamperini endures years of even more harsh and cruel punishment, up until the end of the war.

Jolie does not shy away from showing how horribly these prisoners of war were treated in Japan, but in doing so, she also sheds a light on just how strong the human will is and how important it is to never give up.  

Jack O’Connell, the actor who plays Zamperini, shows how much pain and suffering these men had to endure with authenticity and grace.  He reveals his fighting spirit, but also his forgiving heart--at the end of the movie, we learn that Zamperini ultimately forgives his captors.  O’Connell and director Jolie, do Zamperini’s legend proud.