UNBROKEN – 2014
This film can be entered in two
different ways. Through the obvious door at first bu also through the chimney
then, and the chimney is always more interesting because it is the way Father
The first one is the main
character and his true story. There is little to say about that true story. Louis
Zamperini is what we call a hero. He managed to go through and survive some
absolutely unique and insane situations in which he was made to suffer for the
pleasure the torturer was getting out of it, that pleasure which compensates
for all the frustrations you can imagine. All torturers are simple people in
everyday life but they are deeply frustrated or alienated because they could
not do what they wanted to do and some others than themselves have been able to
do it. They have to take some vengeance and get even with those who dared do
better than they did. A sadist is always a failure who is turning his failure
into success by getting even with those who were not failures, with those who
had the guts to succeed while he, himself, did not have the brain to even
imagine how to succeed.
But this approach of the film is
not very interesting. No one admire Jesus because he accepted to suffer for us.
We admire him because he managed to forgive his torturers.
The second approach is the
distance this film creates with WW2. That was an event that was a long time ago
and Louis himself is demonstrating that living in the spirit of the war, in the
desire to come even with those whom we fought, in some vengeful way or even in
some due payment for the suffering they imposed onto us, is absurd and insane.
The film shows that strength is
inside and that strength dictates we forgive them afterwards and we try to
stand up to them or in fact very often down to them, even if that costs us our
own life because dying would be a victory since we would have forced them to
sell their soul and their sanity to the devil and to absolute oblivion, human
annihilation. It is this strength that enables someone who is unjustly convicted
of a crime he did not commit, or of a crime that was never committed, to be
strong enough to survive as long as possible and to submit to the final ordeal
in dignity. Look at your executioner in the eyes and dare him to be proud of
what he is doing in front of God, a committee of one thousand people from all
over the world, or simply his mother and father, sister and brother, and let
him have the power to tell his own brother he would do the same to him in a similar
situation. Why not his father or his mother?
That’s where the film is strong. The
final image of the room of the sergeant who ran away leaving behind a picture
he should have cherished of himself as an infant with his father. He was not in
such a hurry that he forgot it. He just let it behind because he couldn’t let
his father know he would have done the same thing to him if the situation had
required it. He knew he was an unworthy son of his own father, that he had
betrayed his faith and his hope in him. And that’s the worst part of a defeat.
Apart from that level of empathy,
the film is beautifully acted and poignantly set up and directed. You cannot
resist some scenes because they are stronger than what you way imagine as the maximum
you can decently bear. Louis Zamp’ carried his beam just as well as Jesus
carried his cross. We all have a cross to carry and it is by carrying it we can
hope to reach some remarkable level. There is no future to those who want to
have it easy all along the way. I can only tell the younger people I know and
who seem not to realize that their dream is after a long path of hard efforts
and stiff suffering that they are confused: their future is in their hands and
that will require them to soil them and to harden them and even to scar them a
little. Louis Zamp’ shows us that simple truth with the power of an unfailing
faith in what strength can bring.