Universal Pictures marketing has never pointed to the conservative Christian subtext in Unbroken, or more precisely a notion that there’s a kind of purity and nobility that comes from prolonged suffering under the yoke of ungodly people because, you know, Jesus suffered this way under Pontius Pilate. In my original 12.1 review I noted that Unbroken delivers “a good kind of suffering…something tells me the Orange County crowd will find a place [for it] in their hearts.” The mountain of moolah that Unbroken has made since opening on 12.25 seems to indicate that some kind of rapport with hinterland types has taken place, even if Angelina Jolie‘s film doesn’t include the “Billy Graham born-again” and the “subsequent forgiveness of The Bird” chapters in Louis Zamperini‘s true-life tale.
But today the Christian subtext was finally touted when Pope Francis attended a screening of Unbroken at Rome’s Casina Pio IV, headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, with Jolie and Luke Zamperini, son of the late Louis, in attendance. Pope Francis, Queen Elizabeth…Unbroken is really cooking with implied endorsements from highest-level, semi-holy types. What other religious leaders could be engaged? The Dalai Lama is probably a no-go as Buddhists aren’t really into the whole “the more you’re beaten and tortured, the closer you are to God” equation.
“To be invited to screen Unbroken at The Vatican is an honor and a tribute to Louie’s legacy as a man of faith and someone who exemplified the power of forgiveness and the strength of the human spirit,” Jolie said in a statement. “These are universal themes at the heart of the human experience everywhere.”
My spirit is strong and robust, Angie, and I believe in renewal and cleansing and being here now. I don’t believe in carrying anger around. You have to free yourself from that. But I’m not into suffering, no offense, and I don’t see anything holy in it. And while I admired Unbroken for its passion and craft levels, I felt oppressed by the relentless torture and the beatings in the second half, and I think it would have been a much more interesting film if you had followed Louis back to the States and dramatized (a) the PTSD, (b) the alcoholism, (c) the marriage nearly falling apart, (d) the Billy Graham conversion and (e) travelling to Asia to try and find and forgive “the Bird.”