I just saw the 3rd movie I wanted to see this month. Decent stuff coming from Hollywood is so rare, and here 3 good ones – The Imitation Game, American Sniper, and Unbroken, all here at the same time.
I had read Laura Hillenbrand’s wonderful book on the life of a remarkable man, Louis Zamperini, a couple of years ago. The best Hollywood screenwriters could not have imagined the trials and tribulations Zamperini went through.
He started out as a near juvenile delinquent in his hometown of Torrance, CA. The police would catch him for minor things and take him to his parents house.
He was proving adept at running from the police and it was his brother who got him to channel his energy, in the form of running, to his school track programs.
He ends up as a long distance runner in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, then a few years later in the Army Air Force, as a B-24 bombardier.
It is always interesting to me – if I have read both a book and the accompanying screenplay, to see how closely the movie follows the book. In this case, it is close but in compressing the book to 2 hours they didn’t have the luxury of developing some things. They did not stray and change anything, though.
In the book, Hillenbrand went to great lengths in describing what a typical mission was on a B24 in the South Pacific was like.
A passage I always remembered was describing a fully-loaded Liberator taking off from one of the island runways and being so heavy the crew could see the tops of the palm trees brush the fuselage belly through the gaps in the bomb bay doors. Or the missions of many hours all going to a small island to endure flak and Zeros – and trying to get back over the vast Pacific to your base.
If anything the book really went into more detail of his ordeals and the hell that a POW faced in a Japanese prison camp during WW2. I read another wonderful book on a little-known mission in the Philippines towards the close of the war.
U.S. Army Rangers led a raid on a Japanese POW Camp and I learned that of the over 100,000 allied prisoners at the start of the war in the Philippines, about 6,000 were left 3 years later at the time of the raid. The rest died of starvation, disease, and summary executions.
The movie really didn’t show you the full horror of being in one of those camps.
I am always a bit hesitant in what to say about a movie review (other than did I like it or not? )- I do not wish to spoil it for those of you planning to go.
I will say that what Louis’ brother told him that turned his life path – “If you can take it you can make it” served as a guide for Louis.
As it does for us all.
The movie is good – worth seeing – and the book even better.