Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Unbroken" (2014)

At the (long-time-coming) end of “Unbroken” a text on the screen informs the viewer that Zamperini found God, and found true meaning in life through forgiveness. Unfortunately, we never see this aspect of the story. What we did see—without that all important meaning and fulfillment—amounts to nothing more than suffer-porn, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong. The film is wonderfully made. It is strangely inspiring. It will likely end up amongst the best films of the year on my list based on the amazing cinematography, acting, and the bits of the story we do see.

Still, it bothers me that we found what we got so inspiring. Many Christians I know loved this film. But there is no way to argue that what we got is some sort of inspirational Christian story. Either we are filling in gaps with external knowledge, or we have a messed up fascination with the suffering of others. There is a strong Biblical message teaching that suffering for the faith--and an identification with Christ’s suffering—is edifying.

However, this was not the story of a Christian suffering for the faith. It is tragic circumstances. It is incredible resilience. It is general, petty injustice. It is a man with incredible fortitude and endurance. Unbroken, sure. But the message we get is encompassed in “If you can take it, you can make it.” I would have preferred the story that taught about the power of forgiveness.


  1. Did you read the book? The movie leaves out the entire ending of the book which shows his life being redeemed and beautiful forgiveness. I was highly disappointed with the film.

  2. I haven't seen the movie and am disappointed to hear that the end wasn't shown well. As Amy comments, the book does show his conversion near the end of his life and I thought it was quite lovely. I find it hard to think of Zamperini's life as an inspirational Christian story, though. It's a biography, not a novel. He suffered through amazingly difficult circumstances. He reacted as many do, by a combination of surviving and drinking far too much. And towards the end of his life, he found new peace and happiness through faith, which made me really happy for him.

  3. Thanks, Amy and Jean. I have not read the book, but of course was aware enough of the story to know something was missing. I did like the film for what it was. It was incredibly well made. Also, the thought process it spurs is worth something.


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