We were recently offered the opportunity to review a movie from FishFlix.com. Looking over the options, I realized that Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition would be a perfect supplement to our current World War II study.
Unbroken is the true story of runner and World War II hero, Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was a troubled child, a juvenile delinquent who was smoking, drinking, and stealing well before his teen years. Few people had hope for a positive future for this young man. While he was a teenager, his brother encouraged him to try out for a track team. He was a very good runner and this new talent turned his life around, giving him goals and focus for the first time in his life. He qualified to compete in the pre-World War II 1938 Olympics in Berlin, and although he didn’t win a medal, he attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler.
When World War II began, he went into the military, fought in the Pacific Arena, and was involved in a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean. After floating on a raft in the ocean for 47 days, surviving on raw fish, beating away sharks, and being shot at by Japanese fighter planes, he and his remaining crewmate were picked up by the Japanese and sent to a prison camp. The movie chronicles the story of his experience with several years of abuse in the camp at the hands of a infamous guard who was nicknamed, “The Bird.” After the war, the 68 lb. man was sent home to rebuild his life. At this point, he was not a Christian, although he had repeatedly promised God that he would serve Him if God saved him from his ordeals. After coming back to the U.S., and struggling with post-traumatic stress syndrome and alcohol abuse, he eventually turned his life over to God and became a new man.
We really enjoyed the movie. It told an amazing story…one we would have believed to be fictional if we hadn’t known differently. It was rather graphic at times, as one would expect from a movie depicting plane crashes, starvation, and beatings. Because of this, I would suggest parental discretion, especially for more sensitive students. I think it’s fine (and a valuable story) for high school students, but elementary aged children would probably find it too intense.
The edition we viewed included an disc of additional content, which included various interviews of Louis Zamperini, as an old man, by Pastor Greg Laurie, CNN, and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. This additional content was quite worthwhile and fleshed out the story by providing more detail about Zamperini’s faith journey. What really struck me was how accurate the actual movie was. Typically, movies fictionalize much of the story, but all the events Zamperini described on the interviews were depicted exactly the same on the movie.
Zamperini died just last year at age 97. In the interviews, at the age of 90+, he was still a sharp and active man with a wonderful sense of humor, who obviously enjoyed telling stories of his youth and of his faith journey and we enjoyed watching the “extras” as much as the Unbroken movie itself.