WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
Life – it’s all a matter of perspective.
The next time I pour a bowl of cereal and feel a fit coming on when I realize there’s no more milk, I’ll take a deep breathe and remember the choice Louis Zamperini had – jump out of his life raft and into water infested with hungry sharks, or stay in and risk being shot by a Japanese aircraft doing a strafing run overhead.
When you think about a situation like that, it kind of makes the little, everyday nuisances that we allow to drive us crazy seem trivial, doesn’t it?
How about when Louis, after spending so much time drifting in a raft at sea, only to be thrown in a brutal POW camp where he’s tortured and beaten, suddenly gets an offer from the Japanese government – read an anti-American statement over the radio and you’ll be allowed to live out the rest of the war in nice accommodations, with all the food and luxuries you want.
Naturally, we all say, “No, I’d never take that deal.” As a mere, humble book blogger, I’ll never find myself in such a situation, but I’d like to think I’d tell my captors where they could stick such a deal. Do any of us really know how we’d respond to such an offer until we find ourselves in that position? Heroically, Louis refuses the deal.
Overall, it is a movie about choices – forks in the road where Louis could have gone in one direction or the other. In his youth, he was an angry little punk who was a menace to his town until his older brother convinced him to channel his energy into joining the track team.
He becomes an amazing runner, good enough to go all the way to the pre-World War II Olympics (which, ironically, were held in Germany), leading to an eerie scene where American, German, and Japanese athletes are all standing around like friends – who knew at the time that would be the last time they’d be doing that for awhile. He’d hoped to return to the next Olympic Games, which had been scheduled to be held in Tokyo of all places, but we all know how that turned out.
It’s hard to find a more class act than Louis. His fellow POW’s are ordered to punch him in the face. He’s more worried about telling them it is ok and to not feel bad about it than he is about, well, his face.
I could go on and on, but you get the drift. The next time I’m late for work and ready to fling myself off a cliff because I can’t find my keys, I will think about brave Louis defying the Japanese POW camp Sgt. and lifting the beam over his head, and realize that I am a major wuss in comparison.
The movie is based on author Laura Hillenbrand’s non-fiction book of the same name. You might remember her as the author of another non-fiction work turned movie, Seabiscuit.
I’ve never read either book and unfortunately, I have a bad habit of never reading a book once they’ve made a movie about it. If you’ve read either one, or just want to commiserate about how Louis makes us all look like pansies when compared to his saint-like bravery, feel free to do so in the comment section.