MOVIES: A new 'Unbroken' & large-scale 'Moses'

by Phil Boatwright, posted Tuesday, September 11, 2018 (10 days ago)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- Two new spiritual movies enter your local cinema this week. I rarely say this, but oh, don't miss these two!

Unbroken: Path to Redemption

A 2014 movie detailing the early years of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini's life -- but sadly leaving out the most important part -- now is rectified by "Unbroken: Path to Redemption," set for theatrical release Friday (Sept. 14).

Zamperini, who was stranded at sea for 47 days only to be rescued and immediately placed in a Japanese POW camp, endured many horrors and came to feel abandoned by God. Eventually he turned to Christ and, through that relationship, was able to forgive those who had tortured him. But his healing process and ability to forgive were given only a couple of lines at the end of the 2014 film, which was simply titled "Unbroken."

In those two lines we were told of Zamperini's forgiveness, including for the particularly barbaric camp commander. Upon seeing those lines, I remember thinking, there's your story! The great majority of that 137-minute film included countless scenes reflecting Zamperini's WWII suffering. Salvation and healing were Zamperini's legacy, showing how a soul can find peace, yet that film neglected this life-altering message.

That oversight has now been corrected in Unbroken: Path to Redemption from Universal and Pure Flix Entertainment. This sequel, based on Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling book, begins with Zamperini returning home to a loving family and an admiring community. He even finds a beautiful, smart, funny, caring, giving young woman to share his life. The future looks bright, except for the terrifying nightmares he suffers as he pictures the evil prison commander continuing to inflict tortures upon him.

Louis tried to escape his troubled view of life through drinking. As any honest alcoholic will tell you, attempting to escape through alcohol never solves the problem, but often leads to self-destruction.

Many films have dealt with people hitting rock bottom before finding salvation and worth. These can be trying experiences for the filmgoer, as we have to sit through one distress after another, knowing there are still more to follow. Same goes here, except for director Harold Cronk's sensitive treatment of the material, and the involving performances from Samuel Hunt (Louie) and Merritt Patterson (his wife Cynthia), which make viewing the difficulties endurable.

Yes, there are difficult moments in Unbroken: Path to Redemption, but the ending makes our endurance of those scenes worth it. I'm convinced this film can be a useful tool in aiding those seeking purpose or healing. And it can be effective in helping others realize what Christians have in Jesus. Rated PG-13 for some disturbing POW imagery, drinking and adult subject matter, the content serves the story and adds to the effectiveness of the uplifting conclusion.

Trivia note: Will Graham convincingly portrays his grandfather, Billy Graham, in the movie. Billy Graham is later seen in archival footage. The short time he's on screen reminds us of the blessing Graham was, and how God used him to aid a spiritually ailing world.

Moses

Sight and Sound Theatres, located in Lancaster, Pa., and Branson, Mo., has brought Bible stories to the stage for 40 years. Their newest production retells the epic adventure of Moses with the use of a sometimes rousing, often meditative musical score. Filmed before a live audience, this massive musical stage presentation has been recorded in order to run in movie theaters two days this month.

Though brilliantly staged, absorbing and with memorable musical numbers, Moses does depend on a "suspension of disbelief." Any stage production does, especially one where Old Testament-attired characters are visibly wearing ear-attached microphones. But if you can temporarily give way to a theatrical reality, you'll be rewarded with a passionate portrayal of one of the Old Testament's greatest figures.

Some scenes in this Moses fondly salute the grandness of C.B. DeMille's 1956 film, "The Ten Commandments," but what's most rewarding is the fact that this stage interpretation gloriously points to the world's ultimate Savior, Jesus. Without wanting to give away how this is done, suffice it to say the ending is quite stirring and spiritually fulfilling.

Sight & Sound brings Moses to cinema theaters across the land for three days, Thursday and Saturday (Sept. 13 and 15) and the following Thursday (Sept. 20) through Fathom Events. In addition to the lively stage presentation, with its stunning production values and wonderful performances, audiences will also view a behind-the-scenes look at the 40-year history of Sight & Sound Theatres.

For tickets and more information, visit MosesEvent.com.

Phil Boatwright is the author of "MOVIES: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Really Bad," available on Amazon.com.
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