On Tuesday, Alyssa and I went to see the movie Unbroken. For months, I’ve been hearing about both the book and the movie. A few of my friends had seen it, and some were rather lukewarm about it, which was surprising. Still, I went with quite a bit of anticipation.
The movie was fabulous. From the first moment, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. Though I knew the basic plot – or maybe because I knew the basic plot – I was invested from the beginning, holding my breath.
It was emotionally intense. By the end, I was drained. And moved. Though I had read about what happened in POW camps in my research for Remember the Lilies, seeing it on the screen drove home the reality of what these men endured. Let’s never forget what they went through to ensure our freedom. We owe men like Louis Zamperini a huge debt.
There were similarities between Unbroken and Remember the Lilies. One scene in the movie shows the POWs standing for roll call and bowing for the Japanese soldiers. Toward the end of the war, when the military took command of Santo Tomas, the internees also had to stand for roll call. If they didn’t bend at the correct angle, they faced punishment, often some kind of beating. Roll call was a grueling ordeal for the underfed prisoners, especially in the hot Manila sun.
One scene in the movie shows Louis Zamperini being forced to stand and hold a large board over his head for a long time in retribution for his not working hard enough. In Santo Tomas, if a prisoner gazed at the American bombers overhead, he would be tied to the camp’s front gate and would be forced to stare at the sun for many hours.
The joy and almost disbelief at liberation is another commonality. We can only imagine what it must have been like to see American soldiers again after years of mistreatment. How wonderful it must have been to be free to go and do what you want, to have enough food to eat, and to sleep at night without fear.
Louis’ faith is mentioned in the movie, though not too much is made of it. To be fair, the movie ended with him arriving back in the United States, and he didn’t become a Christian until a few years later. If you want to hear more about how he came to Christ and what happened to him after the time span of the movie, check out Captured by Grace. It’s produced by Billy Graham’s organization and is very well done.
Overall, I give high marks to Unbroken. It’s well done, captivating, and riveting. It’s also a great glimpse into what at least some of the conditions were like at Santo Tomas and what I pictured when I wrote Remember the Lilies.