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Many people have an opinion about the recent movie release of “Unbroken” — the movie depicting Louis Zamperini’s life and directed by Angelina Jolie. Many people I know have disliked the way it ended, saying it didn’t depict the former POW’s conversion to Christ.

Honestly, I didn’t think Jolie got it wrong. I actually went to the movie after reading the book and had a preconceived attitude that she “broke” the story and didn’t get it right. Sure, Louis’ relationship with Christ is pivotal, but there were plenty of ways his spiritual journey was told. Here are just a few observations from a casual movie-goer:

I went to the movie with family members who are not Christ-followers. They wouldn’t have seen the movie if it had been advertised as a “Christian movie.” Instead, the movie provided interesting conversation I hope will continue. Scenes where Louis prays at sea or when he finds his friend Phil praying on the beach are pivotal moments which help tell the story of God pursuing him.

The book is always better. I would definitely encourage anyone who saw the movie but didn’t read the book to grab a copy. It’s inspiring. And if you think the time at sea or time as a POW gets long in the movie, just read the book. I thought the war would never end. (the movie actually spares viewers from a lot of the atrocities of war).

I understood my own heritage a lot more after reading the book and watching the movie. You see, my step-grandfather served in the South Pacific. I can still remember his disdain when I bought my first Honda. He couldn’t believe I would buy a product from Japan because he hated the Japanese so much . My grandfather married my widowed grandmother when he returned from the war. He also got three bonus boys with the marriage, the youngest being my father.

I never heard my grandpa talk much about the war until later in his life when it finally became a source of pride. Mostly, I think he tried hiding the pain, much like those who returned home. He also became a Christ-follower after the war, and I saw him grow greatly in his faith–especially in his latter years.

I love what my film-making friend, Derek Watson, said last year when I heard him speak. He told the audience that every good film is a Gospel story, whether you see it or not. A good story always displays the brokenness of our world and the need for redemption. “Unbroken” definitely showed the depravity of man and how each person’s life has purpose, no matter how many days they are given. I’m glad God gave Louie the opportunity to experience salvation and forgiveness. May we all use his story to tell His story. More importantly, may our lives reflect His story because we have been offered the same grace and forgiveness.

Photo credit: Universal Studios