My wife and I went to see Unbroken last night. I loved the book and was very excited to see the movie, but it didn’t live up to the book. As my wife pointed out, “The book is always better.”
But why is that? The movie was well acted and the effects looked good. So I was trying to think about why it left me disappointed.
Part of it was definitely because a lot needed to be cut from the book. The movie focuses on Louis Zamperini’s prison-camp experiences. It certainly is the most-exciting part of the book when Zamperini is facing life-or-death consequences.
It only gives his running career and change from petty thief to Olympic champion a partial look and pretty much ignores his battle and recovery from post-traumatic stress. By giving those two sections of his life short shift, it ignored significant parts of what made Zamperini such an interesting person.
His running childhood and running career showed readers how he developed such a strong belief in “If you can take it, you can make it.” The movie made his rise to fame as an Olympic runner look fairly simple. It wasn’t.
Also, while the WWII experiences showed how Louis remained unbroken physically and mentally, the last part showed why he was unbroken spiritually. This was perhaps the most-important part of the story.
Running came easy to him. He worked hard at it, but his life wasn’t on the line only his pride. His WWII experiences were a greater challenge to him and nearly broke him at times, but he hung on. However, I would say that his post-traumatic stress did break him. He became an alcoholic.
That is not to say that he didn’t put his life back together. With help, he repaired himself and learned how to move forward. This might not have been exciting to see on the screen, but it was important for the man.
Go see the movie. It’s definitely worth it, but when you finished watching the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book by Laura Hillenbrand. As my wife says, “The book is always better than the movie.”