Here is a movie that takes the middle third of an extremely well-written book ("Unbroken") by Laura Hillenbrand ("Seabiscuit") and, with the help of a quartet of screenwriters headed by the highly capable Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, reminds us that not only is war hell but Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very painfully earned.

Director Angelina Jolie has crafted a PG-13 (brutality and language) film that illustrates the grim reality of our troops who were taken captive by the Japanese during the War in the Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbor in WWII.

We ache for:
  • Jack O'Connell ("300: Rise of an Empire") as Louis Zamperini, a high-school running phenomenon who set records that lasted for 20 years. This young Olympian is inspired by his terrific older brother who is trying to keep his rascally sibling out of reform school. Our hero's goal is to compete again in the 1940 Olympics to be held in Tokyo, but that plan is derailed by WWII.
  • Domhnall Gleeson ("Brooklyn") is Phil, pilot of the doomed Green Hornet which crashes due to crew inexperience and mechanical failure after they are dispatched to look for downed fliers. Phil and Louis survive 42 days in a life raft only to be taken prisoner by enemy troops. Then their troubles REALLY begin!
  • Miyavi ("Oresama" a music video) is Watanabe, the frustrated commander of the prison camp. His brutality is notorious and the starving prisoners have no recourse. He exploits the fame of his prisoner and targets him for "special" treatment.
Having just read Hillenbrand's excellent book, I was grateful to note that many of the more gruesome episodes were not included. The Zamperini family is faithfully rendered on screen, although I found myself filling in many blanks that weren't included because of the time constraints on a movie.

Make no mistake, Jolie has mounted this film in such a way that we can feel how cold and hungry our prisoners are, and how desperate they become. That plane that flies overhead near the end is a cheerful sight indeed! By the way, this film has been nominated for three Oscars.

I watched this on DVD, so had the luxury of closed captions. The best part was a tip I got from a private source who advised me to watch the extras. They are the best I have ever seen. Thank you! (You know who you are!)
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Here is a trailer:
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