It’s been a while since I’ve seen the first Unbroken movie, but I remember it being dark and depressing. To be honest, Unbroken: Path to Redemption was also dark and depressing; but it had an incredibly joyful ending.
The story begins when Olympic champion Louis Zamperini returns home from World War II. He suffered as a Prisoner of War in Japan and was stranded in a raft at sea for several weeks. Though he is excited to be home, he is doesn’t realize that he is struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His memories of the war haunt him, but he turns to alcohol for relief. The alcohol addiction doesn’t seem serious at first, but it worsens.
During a vacation in Florida, he meets and marries Cynthia Applewhite. Their marriage starts off strong, but the romance between them doesn’t last. When Louis decides to train for the London 1948 Olympics, he has a serious injury that prevents him from running in the future, which is when Louis’ and Cynthia’s marriage really starts to suffer. Louis has trouble finding a job because he doesn’t have a college degree, his PTSD nightmares are worsening, and finances are getting tighter. Even the birth of Cynthia’s and Louis’ daughter doesn’t keep Louis from turning to alcohol. He constantly hangs out in bars and hides his liquor bottles around the house. He even has secret plans to return to Japan to see “The Bird,” the man who tortured him severely in the prison camps. Also, unable to think clearly, he gets involved in a bad business deal. Cynthia is unable to deal with his behavior any longer and threatens to divorce Louis.
However, around this time, Cynthia attends a revival service led by Billy Graham. She has a sudden change of heart and promises not to divorce Louis. She invites him to attend the next service with her, but he only stays for a short time. But Cynthia asks him to attend the next service with her, and this time, he stays the entire time. He is struck by Graham’s words and realizes that God kept him alive during such difficult events so that he’d be able to experience the joys of life after them. At the end of the movie, Louis does return to Japan and forgives the Japanese soldiers and “The Bird.”
The way to be truly free from suffering is to turn to God. Throughout the movie, Louis blamed God for the ways he’d been harmed. Louis saw God as the source of his suffering in the prison camps and wanted nothing to do with Him. When the PTSD became too difficult to handle, he drank alcohol. But it led him to his downfall. He was only able to see his circumstances clearly when he turned to Christ and trusted Him for salvation. He realized that God did not cause his pain but allowed it so that Louis could come to know Him. God used everything, even the worst times in Louis’ life, to draw him to Himself. Louis also realized that he had to forgive those who’d wronged him because Christ forgave him.
Two things in the movie seemed unclear, however. The first was the relationship between Cynthia and Louis. When they got married, Louis was obviously not a Christian; but it wasn’t obvious if Cynthia was saved before their marriage or during the first revival service. It is sinful to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV). However, the writers of this film didn’t make it clear if Cynthia and Louis were unequally yoked or not. Second, at the end of the movie, a slide appeared that basically stated that many POW suffered from PTSD; and Louis found peace through God to manage it, but the other POW found other ways to deal with it. While I agree that medicine certainly helps with mental disorders and illnesses, trusting God is the only way to experience genuine freedom.
Unbroken: Path to Redemption was dark, violent, and even disturbing at times. It was difficult to watch Louis’ nightmares and severe alcohol addiction. But this movie was still incredibly well-made. The acting, filming, lighting, scenery, and costumes were well-done and not cheesy or tacky. The most important part of the movie was the clear message it gave about finding liberty in Christ. Though becoming a Christian won’t cause our issues to disappear, it makes us rely on our fully sovereign and dependable Savior for strength.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 ESV)
*Image by https://unbrokenfilm.com/videosphotos
Unbroken: Path to Redemption. Dir. Harold Cronk. Perfs. Samuel Hunt and Merritt Patterson. Universal Studios in association with The WTA Group and Pureflix, 2018. Film.