When the story is so grand, it’s hard to pack it all into one movie.
Matthew Baer, producer of “Unbroken” and “Unbroken: Path to Redemption,” said the most frequent question he hears centers on why Louis Zamperini’s stirring faith journey wasn’t included in the film’s first installment in 2014.
“The story of Lou Zamperini has been around a very long time — since 1949, ultimately, when Lou was with Billy Graham,” Baer told Faithwire. “So his life story, for film, has always been an embarrassment of riches.”
Zamperini, who died in 2014 at the age of 97, had a truly remarkable life. He was an Olympic athlete and World War II veteran. After his aircraft malfunctioned, he survived on a raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days, only to be captured by Japanese soldiers, who held him as a prisoner of war for more than two years.
When he was finally released at the war’s end — after the U.S. military had wrongfully pronounced him dead — he returned home to Los Angeles. Tormented by post-traumatic stress from the war and angry at God for the horrors he endured, Zamperini turned to alcohol, sending his nascent marriage into upheaval.
When he hit rock bottom, his wife, Cynthia, asked him repeatedly to attend a tent revival where the Rev. Billy Graham was preaching. Zamperini reluctantly attended the first night, but stormed out in anger.
Then, on the second night of the event, something changed. Zamperini encountered God — the Creator he had spent years hating — for the first time, and he gave his life to Jesus Christ.
The second movie, “Unbroken: Path to Redemption,” which premieres Friday, chronicles Zamperini’s life after war, showcasing the veteran’s incredible journey to Christianity and highlighting how forgiveness radically transformed his outlook on life.
“Fortunately, ‘Unbroken’ was successful enough that we were able to come back and do Lou Zamperini’s post-war life the justice that it deserved, especially when it came to his becoming a born-again Christian through Billy Graham,” Baer explained. “So we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to do it the right way.”
The first movie, directed by Angelina Jolie, raked in a whopping $163 million worldwide. The second is a joint project between Universal and Pure Flix, a faith-based movie production house.
For more information about “Unbroken: Path to Redemption,” click here.