After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
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The life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who joined the armed forces during the second world war. Only to be captured by the Japanese navy after a plane crash in the Pacific. During his capture, Louie must continue his fight by surviving through the war. Written by
After the war, Mutsuhiro Watanabe "The Bird" owned a vacation condominium on The Gold Coast in Australia, which is coincidentally where much of the movie was filmed. See more »
There never was scheduled passenger service by steam train to Torrance, CA, as depicted in the movie. There was service on Pacific Electric, but you'd have to show overhead electrified wires. He may have in real life started his journey on a long-distance train in Los Angeles. See more »
We are here.
At 8,000 feet. This is it, boys.
You got it, Zamp?
[dialing in bombing scope]
You hit this one, drinks are on me.
I ain't going to a bar with you, handsome. You confuse all the broads.
Get your cameras, boys. I'm gonna light it up like Christmas.
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Fabulous story, and troubling, but also weirdly bland, despite first rate filming...
Heartbreaking, inspiring true story, told and directed in straight up high quality realism. There is some true intensity in the fighting scenes, in the survival scenes on the raft, and in the prison camp with its torture and hardship. And this is balanced by determination and hope.
If that sounds generic, in a way that fitsthe movie follows some tried and true formulas. The beginning has us with the hero, Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O'Connell), in a big bomber heading for some targets against Japan in WWII. As trouble begins, leading to the crash which makes up the real start of the movie, we also get flashbacks to his simple Italian-American childhood. This is effective, but it's sentimental stuff. And it lets you know the kind of wholesome intentions of the movie.
There is a lot going on here, in three main sections: running, surviving on a raft, and the prison camps. That Zamperini suffers and endures is the point of the film, and in that way the narrative is very straight forward. There are villains and buddies. The skies rain bombs and the sea is full of sharks. Some people are merciless, and others kind. But in the middle, through every turn and travail, is Zamperini. "If you can take it, you can make it," is a mantra in the film, and that's the message.
The direction and photography were first rate very subtle in a spectacular way (or vice versa). It's a truly fine film, and director Angelina Jolie (in her second feature, after a terrible first try) does a really good job. The story, co-written by the Coen brothers and others, based on a book by Laura Hillenbrand, is a great bit of history, quite sensational stuff.
So why did we leave the movie feeling just so-so about it all? I'm not sure how to nicely say this, but it's really a good story, well told, lacking some quality of surprise or depth it really needs to rise above. As amazing as the photography and editing (and so on) are, it's all in service to a fairly ordinary kind of story. Not that this man's life is ordinary at all, but the way it develops and is told is oddly routine, as narrative storytelling.
Good stuff, for sure. It's a bit hard to take sometimes for its brutality--there is a lot of graphic, personal violence--and the Japanese camps are portrayed as truly cruel (which many in Japan object to). But it's an impressive movie in many ways.
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