Here’s another film more appropriate for older viewers. With the Olympic games currently underway in Japan, here’s a true story about an Olympic runner in Japan… albeit under very different circumstances.
A son of poor immigrants and constantly bullied, the young Louis Zamperini finds respite in secretly drinking and smoking. Worried that he’s on a self-destructive path to nowhere, his older brother encourages him to release his frustrations through running. Fast-forward to 1936, and Zamperini is running in the Olympics. He doesn’t win a medal, but he defies expectations nonetheless and becomes a local celebrity.
Unfortunately the outbreak of World War II cancels the 1940 Olympic games (which were scheduled to take place in Tokyo), ruining Zamperini’s prospects of competing again, and he joins the Air Force. When he and a couple comrades survive a horrific plane crash and are stranded for weeks on a raft in the middle of the ocean, he prays to God: “If you get me through this, I swear I’ll dedicate my whole life to you.”
But the worst is yet to come. When the raft finally drifts ashore, Zamperini is captured by the Japanese Navy and becomes a prisoner of war. The conditions are brutal for all the prisoners, but, as an Olympic runner, Zamperini is especially targeted. Beaten, starved, tortured, and ridiculed, Zamperini must tap into that same resilience that got him to the Olympics if he is to survive.
After the film, you may be inspired to learn more about Zamperini’s life after the war, particularly his faith in Christ and how he came to forgive his captors, even returning to Japan to meet them once more, ultimately keeping the promise he made in the raft.