Unbroken 'Legacy of Faith' DVD tells of Zamperini's decision to follow Christ

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
Universal Pictures

HOLLYWOOD (Christian Examiner) -- Just months after the movie Unbroken raised the issue of whether a faith-based audience should expect a Hollywood filmmaker to cover every aspect of a person's life -- including Louis Zamperini's salvation experience -- Universal Pictures released a special "Legacy of Faith" edition DVD version of the movie.

The Hollywood Reporter said the home video was released March 24 and includes the movie and 90-minutes of extra material that tell about Zamperini's life after his "near-death experiences in a rickety lifeboat and at a brutal Japanese prison camp during World War II."

The DVD explores the real-life Zamperini story contained in the Laura Hillenbrand book on which the movie was based -- namely his conversion experience and life turnaround which was also described by Will Graham, Billy Graham's grandson in a recent interview with Harold Hendrick, a Bott Radio Network personality in St. Louis.

The younger Graham, who serves as vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was tapped in January to ride in the 126th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade after Zamperini, who was selected as Grand Marshal, died July 2, 2014.

After the Olympian survived the war, Graham said Zamperini came home and fell in love and married Cynthia Applewhite. "Tormented" by nightmares of a abusive guard, nicknamed "The Bird," Zamperini -- who had started drinking heavily -- was on the verge of a divorce.

Louis Zamperini and Billy Graham at the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade where Zamperini made a life-changing decision for Christ | BGEA

"Everything was going down the tubes," Graham said – until Cynthia went to a Billy Graham Crusade in 1949 and then invited Louis. He was curious at why his wife went and so he went himself.

"He hated it. He was so moved by what my granddad said, that he hated it," Graham said.

Zamperini walked out, but his wife pleaded with him to come back another day.

'I'll go back and when Billy Graham gives the invitation we will get up and go out," Graham recalled Zamperini's words.

"Instead of walking out, he walked forward and that's what changed Louis Zamperini's life," Graham said. "He never had another nightmare, and he never had alcohol. Louis Zamperini's life was changed. He spent the rest of his life serving Christ."

Zamperini's son, Luke Zamperini, told Hollywood Reporter the "biggest criticism" the movie received was from people in the faith-based community who were disappointed the Billy Graham scene was left out of the movie. "I loved the movie. It was beautiful and brutal at the same time. Angie got all the scenes right," he said of director Angelina Jolie.

Graham had only encouraging words for the $65 million movie which made about $161 worldwide.

"It's a good movie. I encourage you to watch it," he said of Unbroken, calling it a "true story" albeit one for a mature audience and not for children, considering its brutal depictions of inhumanity.

"Louis' life was broken," Graham said. "And it was miserable until he came to the point of surrendering and turning it to Jesus Christ and from that point on he was changed."

Distribution of "Legacy of Faith" -- which includes footage of Graham and Zamperini together in the 1950's -- has been outsourced to Pure Flix according to The Hollywood Reporter, and is available only in Christian bookstores.

"The Christian world has embraced Louis Zamperini's story as one of their own," Luke Zamperini said. "But I'm hoping for a wider release for the 'Legacy of Faith' version so that people who don't shop at Christian stores can get their hands on this."

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