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7 Things You Should Know about Unbroken: Path to Redemption

  • Michael Foust Christian Headlines Contributor
7 Things You Should Know about <em>Unbroken: Path to Redemption</em>

Louis Zamperini is a World War II veteran who is searching for purpose. So far, though, he hasn’t found it.

He’s mad at God. He’s also angry at his former Japanese captors, who tortured him in prison for two years and nearly killed him. Mostly, though, he’s simply bitter at his position in life.

True, he did return to America alive, but that means little to Zamperini because he can’t find a job. He can’t pursue his Olympic dream, thanks to a recent injury. He’s also battling nightmares about his time in the war.

Thus, Zamperini buries his emotions in alcohol, hiding it from his wife in the toilet tank and sneaking out often to bars with his friends. And now, he has hatched a plan to travel back to Japan so that he can get revenge and kill his captors.

Can Louis Zamperini find redemption before he ruins his own life – and before his wife divorces him?

The movie Unbroken: Path to Redemption (PG-13) opens this weekend, telling the story of how Louis Zamperini – the subject of the bestselling book, Unbroken – returned from the war an angry man until he found Christ.

Here are seven things you should know:

Photo Courtesy: PureFlix

1. It's the "Rest of the Story."

1. It's the "Rest of the Story."

The film is a sequel to the 2014 movie Unbroken, which followed the story of Zamperini’s Olympic exploits and then his capture and torture in a Japanese prison camp. That film ended with him returning to America and revealed little about his subsequent faith. Both films have the same producer: Matthew Baer. It was impossible to tell the story of Zamperini’s rich life in one movie, Baer said. “No studio is going to make the three-hour version of Unbroken,” said Baer, who always wanted to make a sequel. “The desire was if Unbroken was successful enough to be able to get another crack at the apple.”

Photo Courtesy: PureFlix

2. It Spotlights Forgiveness – a Message Our Society Needs

2. It Spotlights Forgiveness – a Message Our Society Needs

We live in a divided culture that argues about everything -- and often refuses to forgive, too. In Unbroken: Path to Redemption, we watch Zamperini accept Christ and then return to Japan to forgive his former captors. It’s a true-life scene possible only with the power of the Gospel. “My dad had reason to hate his Japanese captors, much more than the Left and Right hate each other in this country,” Zamperini’s son, Luke Zamperini, told Crosswalk. “And he was able to forgive them and live a life of peace after this.”

Photo Courtesy: YouTube/Unbroken: Path to Redemption, screen capture

3. It Has Will Graham in It.

3. It Has Will Graham in It.

He plays his late grandfather – the late Billy Graham – in a scene recreating the 1949 Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade, where Zamperini was saved. Samuel Hunt (Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire) plays Zamperini, while Merritt Patterson (The Royals) plays Zamperini’s wife, Cynthia. Will Graham may sound like his grandfather in the movie, but it wasn’t intentional. In fact, the director told him not to impersonate Billy Graham. Graham said he was nervous on the set and felt like a “fish out of water.” Don’t expect him to do more movies, though. “I don’t want to be a movie star,” Will Graham said. “I don't want to go into the movie business. God's calling me to something bigger and that's to tell people about Jesus Christ. Can movies do that? Yes. But God had given me a platform to preach the Gospel.”

Photo Courtesy: PureFlix

4. It Was a Turning Point for Billy Graham, Too.

4. It Was a Turning Point for Billy Graham, Too.

Prior to 1949, few people had heard of Billy Graham, who was only 30 at the time. The 1949 Los Angeles crusade thrust him into the national spotlight when the national media – the newspapers -- started covering him. Will Graham preached the same sermon in the movie that Zamperini would have heard. “They were very good close friends,” Will Graham said of Louis Zamperini and Billy Graham. “My granddad thought of Louis often.”

5. It’s a Story Good Enough To Be Used in Classrooms.

Teaching history to high school students can be difficult, but some teachers – such as Heather Fuller of Granbury High School in Texas – have used the Unbroken book to put a face on World War II.  Zamperini’s story, she told a group of reporters, teaches the students “character” and “grit” and “the idea that you can have hope even in the most daunting situation.” She wrote curriculum based on Unbroken.   

Photo Courtesy: YouTube/Unbroken: Path to Redemption, screen capture

6. It Can Be a "Tool" for Churches.

6. It Can Be a "Tool" for Churches.

Congregations and faith-based organizations got behind movies like War Room and Courageous, and officials and even cast with Unbroken: Path to Redemption are hoping the same thing takes place with this film. “I hope that churches will use it as a tool” to “reach non-Christians” and then “plug them into the local church,” Will Graham said. Bill Reeves, president of WTA Group – a film partner – said officials behind the film wanted it to appeal to faith-based and mainstream audiences. “We've worked really hard to make sure that the book reader that may not be a person of Christian faith still loves the movie because they love the book.” Still, the movie is honest about Louis’s “relationship with Christ,” he said.

Photo Courtesy: Thinkstock

7. It May Not Be Suitable for Small Children.

7. It May Not Be Suitable for Small Children.

With themes involving torture, alcohol dependency, marital disputes and divorce, Unbroken: Path to Redemption may not be for the smallest of children. It’s rated PG-13 for thematic content and related disturbing images. It contains no coarse language or sexuality.

To watch the trailer, click here.


Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo Courtesy: PureFlix





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