Unbroken movie fact vs fiction: How accurate is the Louis Zamperini biopic directed by Angelina Jolie.
Hillenbrand’s bestseller has now been adapted for the big screen, with a screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, and William Nicholson.
Quite closely—though, as those reviews have mentioned, a lot of details are left out from the 137-minute running time. Over the course of a couple of years, Zamperini would go on to break records, including some of Pete’s. Louis Zamperini, peers through a hole in his B-24D Liberator Super Man made by a 20mm shell over Nauru, Apr 18 1943, and as played by Jack O'Connell in Unbroken. As seen in the film, McNamara was especially anxious following the crash, and he ate all of the chocolate overnight.
It’s not seen in the film, but Zamperini and Phillips were initially treated quite well by their Japanese captors, since they were worth more alive than dead. The film paints the Bird as a violent, sadistic man, and the book backs up this characterization with far more detail. Zamperini did indeed appear on Radio Tokyo to renounce an earlier NBC Radio broadcast that had pronounced him dead, as seen in the movie; his family was relieved to learn his fate. Likewise, the pivotal, triumphant moment in the film when Louis holds a heavy wooden beam over his head for several minutes at the order of the Bird, is also chronicled in Hillenbrand’s book. The men would leap onto the Bird and pull him to the top floor of the barracks, overlooking the drop to the Hokura River. The plot was never carried out—the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred a few days later, and the camp was thrown into confusion.
Zamperini, a month shy of his 94th birthday, has one of the most compelling stories of persistence, resilience and survival.
In “Unbroken,” Laura Hillenbrand’s new biography of Zamperini, he is correctly portrayed as the ultimate survivor.
It often appeared he wouldn’t even make it through his delinquent days as an adolescent troublemaker growing up in Torrance, Calif.
A running prodigy, he set a world’s interscholastic record, which lasted for 19 years, before earning a spot on the 1936 Olympic team in an event he had run only four times. Though he finished eighth in the grueling 5,000-meter race, his 56-second final lap was so fast it caught the eye of Hitler, who asked to meet the “boy with the fast finish.” After shaking hands with the German dictator, Zamperini set his eyes on another symbol of the Third Reich.
Wanting a souvenir, Zamperini swiped a Nazi flag from the Reich Chancellery where Hitler lived. With his eyes set on an Olympic return in Tokyo in 1940, the son of Italian immigrants began training almost immediately. Representing the University of Southern California in the 1938 NCAA Championships, opponents attempted to injure Zamperini during the race to slow him down. Hillenbrand describes in vivid detail an epic aerial battle over Nauru in which Zamperini’s bomber and crew mates sustained significant damage.
The eventful and frightening 24 hours were only the beginning of Zamperini’s Pacific hardships. A little over a month after Nauru and Funafuti, Zamperini was on a regular reconnaissance mission. But underwater, danger took another form for Zamperini – large dorsal fins and sharp, jagged teeth. To avoid the plane’s bullets, seven times he lunged “into the water to kick and punch at the sharks until the bomber had passed,” Hillenbrand wrote.
Once one of the world’s elite athletes, Zamperini weighed less than 100 pounds, having lost about half his body weight on the raft. He was held captive as a Japanese POW and often the only sustenance he received was a rice ball thrown in the dirt.
One Japanese guard, Matsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe, made particular efforts to break Zamperini. On one occasion, Watanabe put him in charge of a sickly goat telling Zamperini he would die if the goat died.
Wade, who looked at the camp’s clock when the ordeal began, said that after 37 minutes, Watanabe was enraged at Zamperini’s resiliency. The nightmares consumed him and made him yearn to journey back to Japan to find and kill Watanabe with his bare hands. WWII stole the prime of his running career and his best opportunity to earn an Olympic medal. Zamperini still lectures high schools, colleges and other audiences, spreading his beliefs in resiliency, forgiveness and positive thinking.
Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. But it was more than just her brilliance and accomplishments that struck such awe and feeling in me. Even now, telling you this some fifty years later, it still brings goose bumps to me.  I could weep with joy at the knowledge that I am loved by Love Itself.
Posted in Epiphany Channel Project Related, Epiphany Stories, Insights, Interviews, Pop Culture, The Book - Epiphany and tagged Elise Ballard, epiphanies, Epiphany, epiphany book, Maya Angelou, Maya Angelou Quotes.


With the recent announcement that David Morrissey's The Governor will return as a series regular in the upcoming fourth season of AMC's The Walking Dead, the spoiler-cat is out of the bag that the season-long big bad survived the carnage-filled finale.In fact, besides a bizarre confrontation between the Governor and his own people on the road from the prison back to Woodbury, nobody at all died for most of the episode--and not only did the Governor survive, but his two most trusted and untrustworthy henchmen did, as well.
Angelina Jolie, who befriended Zamperini before his death this past July at the age of 97, directed and co-produced the film, and Jack O’Connell stars as Zamperini. The film ends, for instance, soon after the war ends, whereas Hillenbrand spends several chapters delving into what occurred post-war. Army Air Forces in 1941 and earned the rank of second lieutenant.* In May 1943, while stationed in Kualoa in Hawaii, he and his crew were ordered by the lieutenant in command to search for a missing B-24.
Not long into the flight, the Green Hornet began to drift and eventually crashed into the Pacific Ocean due to mechanical difficulties.
His arrival at Omori made already despicable living conditions (Japanese camps were notorious for ignoring POW tenets set up by the Geneva Conventions) a nightmare. One of the POWs who witnessed the feat while working nearby kept an eye on the clock and noted that Zamperini held the beam for 37 minutes before the Bird charged at him angrily, knocking him to the ground. The Bird mysteriously disappeared for some time, and the guards were curiously silent about what was going on outside of the premises.
They were then allowed to bathe in the river, where they were spotted by an American plane.
From a troubled adolescence to vengeful competitors, the Gestapo, bullets and shrapnel, a plane crash, repeated shark attacks, machine gun fire, hell in a prison cell, and even his own personal demons – Zamperini has survived it all. But Zamperini turned his remarkable penchant for escape into record-breaking performances on the track.
At the age of 19, Zamperini had become the youngest distance runner to ever make the American Olympic squad.
He escaped the wrath of the bombs that left the island wrecked with craters as large as 35 feet deep and 60 feet across.
His plane’s engines faltered sending more than 50,000 pounds spiraling toward the ocean surface. Along with the scorching sun, they were constantly pestered by the sea’s largest predators. They survived on minimal rainwater, birds that landed on the raft, fish caught with bird-meat baited hooks and the liver of sharks they killed with only their bare hands and a flare.
He did not regain that weight until more than two and a half years later when WWII finally ended. He also had to endure both mental and physical torments as he and other POWs were savagely abused. Watanabe sometimes searched a room full of POWs until he spotted Zamperini and then singled him out for punishment.
While Zamperini and all his muscles worked to keep the board in the air, fearful that if it dropped Watanabe would have him shot, the psychotic guard laughed and mocked the former Olympian.
With a running start, he punched Zamperini in the stomach, dropping the GI with the board coming down on top of him. Addiction took over his life until he finally found religion at a Billy Graham tent revival in Los Angeles. He gave several his personal pardon when he traveled to a Japanese prison in 1950 to spread the Christian faith. He finally gave up skateboarding at the age of 81 and was still snowboarding until he was 90. However, Zamperini now has a case sitting in his living room that holds the five Olympic torches he has carried.
After we hung up, I sat silently at my desk for a while and knew something had shifted in me.
Angelou’s light and love reverberate on through the enormous body of work she created and the life and wisdom she shared with us all. The way you’re changed at ten prepares you to be changed again at fifteen, but you couldn’t have been changed at fifteen had you not had that change at ten.  You see what I mean? Maya Angelou was a celebrated African American poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, actress, producer, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist.
Below, I take a look at some of the other major ways the movie reflects, and occasionally diverges from, its source.
Around the third day in, a search plane failed to notice the flares that the survivors used to signal their location. Weeks into their being stranded, one of their rafts was indeed destroyed by Japanese gunners from above, forcing the three of them to pack uncomfortably into the remaining raft. Instead of being killed, Phillips and Zamperini were eventually separated, the latter sent to Omori Camp in Japan.
Zamperini would later say of his endurance that day, “Something went on inside of me. But Zamperini may never be able to give up running, still lacing up his athletic shoes for short runs on occasion.
Included is the torch he trotted through Noetsu, one of the cities he was interred as a POW, for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. I think I edited five to ten words out of the entire account she gave – that’s what a master she was of the written and spoken word.


It had a quality that was mesmerizing and soothing, forceful and awe-inspiring all at once. Maya Angelou will always be a breath-taking example of what can be created when a person doesn’t believe in limitations or boundaries, and she will always be relevant, inspiring, and her work will always be in demand because of this. She is also a sterling example of taking one’s epiphany and building an extraordinary life upon it. In 1970, her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to international acclaim and enormous popular success.
Their circumstances were dire: The provisions box was lost in the crash, and the life rafts were ill-equipped, lacking a mast and sail, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and other necessities that would be included in standard military life rafts the following year. A pattern developed that is played out on screen: They would go several days without water before a storm occurred and they were able to collect rainwater in empty cans.
The Bird, as indicated in the closing credits, managed to slip away before the Americans arrived; he went into hiding for several years after the war, and was never prosecuted.
After the end of the war, he continued to have recurring nightmares of a time when Watanabe lashed him across the face multiple times with a belt buckle. Angelou because several requests had come in via my website for her to be interviewed, and then I asked a woman I was interviewing, Stacey Lannert (also in my book), one of my standard questions of whose epiphany she would want to know about if she could ask anyone in the world. When she said, “Even now, telling you this some fifty years later, it still brings goose bumps to me.
It was the voice of someone who knew exactly who she was as an individual and as part of the collective. This is what I always refer to as one of my all-time favorite epiphanies because it’s something I’d never heard expressed in this way before. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than thirty bestselling titles. There are any number of possibilities.The first and most obvious possibility is that he'll simply launch a surprise attack at some point in the season.
Among the few things that were on the Green Hornet’s raft were military-issued chocolate bars, a few half-pints of water, a flare gun, sea dye, fishhooks, and a fishing line.
They would also go days without food, until they could kill a bird that landed on their boat and use it as fish bait.
And to this day, the flag remains in Zamperini’s possession, resting in his Hollywood Hills home. I could weep with joy … ” I could feel the joy and tears in her voice and was moved to tears myself.
I’d heard and understood being “loved by Love Itself” but that “there’s nothing GOOD that we can’t do?” I’d never heard that. Angelou to share with me, and it is what subsequently shifted me and gave me (and probably some, if not all, of those people who highlighted her passage in my book as well) a tool for life, ; and so on and so on.
Ideally this would be the midseason finale, to give the fans some resolution on the Governor's story and allow the rest of the year to continue on with a minimum of distraction, but as we saw this season, the showrunners won't always decide to go with predictable route of having the big events happen on finales and premieres.In the case of a surprise attack, the most obvious choice (for a number of reasons) would be to approximate what's actually in the comics. Angelou’s book, I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings, had not only changed her life but had literally saved it. I can’t really explain it, but dealing with her office had a special quality that was palpable and when you got off the phone or corresponded with them, you somehow felt elevated.
Because the sequence is iconic, so missing it would cause some consternation and disappointment among comics fans. And it is the love that reverberates through her words that I later wrote down on the page. Angelou served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, received three Grammy Awards, and was awarded over thirty honorary degrees.
It's also visually interesting and exciting to have someone zombies swarming a live tank as it takes down the prison walls.A final showdown similar to what happened in the comics would also set him up for another iconic moment--the beheading of one of Rick's men outside the city gates.
She was a professor at Wake Forest University from 1991-2014 as the recipient of the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. Some fans had speculated that Andrea might stand in for that character in the season three finale, but while she did die, it was never going to be at the hands of the Governor. Maya Angelou passed away on May 29, 2014, leaving behind one son, Guy, many loved ones and an indelible legacy. What if that's where the Governor and his men are holed up, waiting for an opportunity?It's not out of the question; besides the fact that we don't actually know where they went, there's the fact that they had managed to watch Rick and his people, totally unobserved, as is evidenced by the Governor's remark that Rick and his group had brought in an impressive arsenal. The Governor seemed to be manipulating the populace at will during his time in charge, in spite of having said and done some pretty crazy stuff.
And if the place is empty, could he set up camp there, or at least take what supplies they can carry out of town? Or even, given his proclivity for surviving everything the world throws at him, just conveying the size and menace of a particular herd of walkers headed for the prison?




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