Interested in the storyline behind this screenplay, I picked up the book and began reading the story of Louie Zamperini. I had no previous knowledge of his story. The fact that I was enjoying the book so much made anticipation for the movie even more appealing. A friend of mine, Russell, built even more intrigue when he said, "Will, you are going to love the ending of that book!"
That comment motivated me to put my head down and finish Zamperini's story. For those of you unfamiliar with the tale, here is a brief summary: imagine a story of a troubled boy who unexpectedly became an Olympic athlete. He joins the Army Bombarders in WWII only to have his plane crash into the Pacific Ocean where he and two other men were stranded for 47 days on a life-raft. They were rescued, not by Americans but by the Japanese. They were taken to prison of war camps where they were tortured relentlessly.
Angelina Jolee's screenplay ends with his rescue from the camps and his subsequent return to America and a disappointing handful of sentences are given for the rest of his story. What movie-goers didn't experience was, for me, the most compelling storyline of Zamperini's life.
Louie did something that most men would never have the fortitude to do. He returned to Japan, sought out his captors, who beat, belitted, and tortured him. Redemption, not revenge, was the purpose of Zamperini's return.
You see once returning to America after his initial imprisonment, Louie married. Post-Tramatice Stress Disorder affected him severely. One night he recalls waking from a nightmare, strangling his wife. She decided to divorce Louie but fate intervened. His wife went to a Billy Graham crusade and returned to her husband at told him, "If you want to save this marriage, you will come with me tonight." During those nights underneath a revival tent Louie surrendered his life to Jesus. This decision is what brought Zamperini back to Japan.
Restoration was what drove Louie's return to Japan to face his captors. Redemption would draw enemies to look one another in the eyes and seek forgiveness for their horrors.
I want you to hear the rest of the story from Zamperini himself. Give a few minutes to hear his testimonial . . .