Archives For redemption story

Four years ago when I first read the highly acclaimed book, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit), I thought, this was an important book that was going to fly because of how strong the story was in the life of Louis Zamperini. Working in the publishing industry, it has been so encouraging to see people from all types of backgrounds read this story and enthusiastically recommend it to others.

I have since given the book as presents to numerous people. I seek out those who haven’t read it because Zamperini’s story is so inspiring. You don’t need to be a World War II enthusiast to appreciate it. It is a beautiful story of endurance and redemption.

A few years ago I read that the movie was quickly optioned to be adapted into a movie. It would be created by multiple Oscar winners; directed by Angelina Jolie and the screenplay would be adapted by Joel and Ethan Coen and a few others.

It was hard to not be excited about the possibility of how great this movie could be.

I waited in anticipation to see the movie and finally was able to this past week. The movie suffered what happens to so many great books.

unbrokenUnbroken the movie was good, but not great.

And I’m mad.

I’m mad because good movies don’t get shared by word of mouth. Great movies do and this just was not a great movie.

I also don’t want to hear the typical excuse from people, “the book is always better than the book.” That is an ignorant statement because movies and books are just different mediums of telling story.

I knew the film would not match the book and I was okay with it only because I read the full story of Zamperini’s life told so well by Hillenbrand. I was disappointed because so many people have gone to see the film, left disappointed, and probably did not know why. Sure they were impressed with his incredible life and enduring so much.

So, why did the movie fall flat?

According to authority on story told through film, Robert McKee, the first principle of adaptation is the following: The purer the novel, the purer the play, the worse the film.

All this means is that because Unbroken was a great book, it was much more difficult to transfer its greatness to film. But, it could be done.

Also, when a lesser talent (writer or director) attempt to adapt genius, the genius of the original writing will most likely be dragged down to the level of the adaptor.

Now, a lot of people will point out that Angelina Jolie is still a young director but I felt she did a fine job with the film for only her second time directing a feature film. There are many things in the movie that just felt awkward and disrupted the story. For example, why would you do a flashback in the middle of an intense air battle? The ending is also what fell flat because it is too abrupt. Finally, the core of an epic movie is the soundtrack and it just did not match the dramatic story being told. Finally, the key ingredient missing was the movie not being able to show the full transformation of Louie Zamperini. I don’t want to ruin the story for you but the final act of the book is what makes the first part of his dramatic story more meaningful; following Zamperini’s troubled youth, running in the 1936 Olympics, watching his life as a WWII bombardier, crashing in the Pacific and drifting for 47 days, and enduring over two years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

unbroken-cover_custom-s6-c10McKee also writes, “The unique power and splendor of the cinema is the dramatization of extra-personal conflict, huge and vivid images of human beings wrapped inside their society and environment, striving with life.” He goes on. “This is what film does best, better than play or novel.”

The movie could have been great like the book but also different.

The filmmakers failed to show the full transformation of Zamperini’s life, which is where we witness true greatness.

Despite everything, I am thankful for this movie because Louis Zamperini got to spend in-depth time with Angelina Jolie, arguably one of the most populate entertainment stars in the world. Zamperini had the opportunity to share who he truly was to her, a man who lived an extraordinary life and one saved only by grace in Jesus.

In summary, if you are dissatisfied with the movie, turn back to the book. Read it. Then re-read it.

After all, good story always wins. Go read Unbroken. Go read good stories. 

 

Here are a few great movie adaptations to consider after you read and see Unbroken

To Kill a Mockingbird: It is rare that a great book can become a great film as well but it was done. I can’t imagine Atticus Finch better than how well Gregory Peck played him.

Gone Girl: I read the book last year and was mesmerized by its plot twists and turns. I couldn’t imagine how Gone Girl could be turned into such a great thriller of a movie but David Fincher did an excellent job

Lone Survivor: I read the book by Marcus Luttrell right after it came out in 2007. Director Peter Berg fought hard to make sure the movie was told well and did an excellent job adapting this true story to film.

World War Z: I loved the book, which serves as a first hand account of a fictional zombie war. When Brad Pitt led this great book to film, it was very different and faster as a movie but it had to be different. This is a rare movie that did a fabulous job to preserve the spirit of the book but also recognized that it had to be different to work well on-screen.

The Hobbit vs. Lord of the Rings: No doubt that LOTR and Hobbit are classic pieces of literature from J.R.R. Tolkien. LOTR the movies are treasures of bringing the books to life on film but The Hobbit falls very flat in its adaptation.

American Sniper: The book is highly acclaimed and I can only imagine how well Clint Eastwood will do with the movie, which releases in January, 2015.

If you are looking at some other great book to movie adaptations, here is a good list.

It’s the question I’ve been asked from time to time.

Should Christians Cheer for Tiger Woods? 

I feel like I have grown up with Tiger Woods. I had great aspirations of becoming a world-class college golf player and then on the PGA Tour but those dreams didn’t quite come true. While I was struggling to make cuts, he was winning US Junior Amateurs and US Amateurs. Then, as a senior in high school we witnessed him obliterate the field at the 1997 Masters. Since then he has gone on to become one of the most well-known athletes in history. He motivated millions to take up the game, buy Nike gear, and hack it with the rest of us. He inspired us to seek greatness. That was until the world discovered Tiger was human in 2009. He then was simply, Eldrick Woods. The superhero Tiger Woods’ kryptonite was revealed in the form of adultery, greed, lies, and the root of it all, pride. What came next was the real horror.

During The Master this year, it was interesting to hear what self-proclaimed Christians were still saying about Tiger.

Tiger Woods…

  • Is a fornicator
  • Is a cheater
  • Always gets his way
  • Dishonored golf
  • Is a (insert racist slur here)
  • Is a crazy Buddhist
  • Only cares about himself

Sounds a bit like my 3 and 5 year olds. I confess that it sounds a lot like me too. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t sit in my holy chair and judge others, especially people like Tiger Woods. This scene of judgment is not much different from the pharisees with stones in hand ready to throw at the sinner. There have been some great articles and blogs written about this question of how we biblically should respond to Tiger Woods, most notably in Sojo. I encourage you to read this for good perspective.

Why do I cheer for Tiger?

I cheer for Tiger because

  1. It will be good for the game of golf for him to win. He brings excitement like few others in history have provided. That excitement has encouraged friends of mine whom would never have played to give it a shot. Golf has suffered when Tiger isn’t on top of the leaderboard. He is not perfect but is striving to earn his way back for the game, for himself, for us. I do get annoyed from time to time when the golf media focuses on him when lesser known players are leading. But I know that it helps everyone financially and professional golf is indeed a business.
  2. He pursues greatness in golf. He has been humbled in that pursuit but his undaunted spirit is inspirational for any golfer.
  3. I believe God’s story is about redemption and he may very well be doing some amazing that we don’t know yet in Tiger’s life.
  4. Tiger’s story isn’t over yet. He still has a golf career and a life to live.

I love the “what if” dreams.

What if we put our rock down and looked in the mirror more?

What if Tiger’s golf comeback is merely the beginning of something bigger in his life?

What if his comeback story leads him to Christ?

What if his redemption story could inspire millions? Inspire me? Inspire you?

What if?