I wish the movie had been as emotionally charged as the book was. I am glad that I got to read the book as part of my book club group.
I learned things I didn’t know about about WWII (which is, admittedly, not all that much). Specifically about the air force and bombers. I also gained new understanding into the Japanese psyche as portrayed by Hillenbrand.
Some of my book group were surprised by the cruelty of The Bird and other guards and how they could go “back to being normal people” after the war. There have been studies done on the whole “I was just acting under orders” kind of attitude and how susceptible people are to it. I’m not trying to excuse what they did, but to point out that the “bad guy” isn’t always easy to identify. I also want to point out the this is one area where the movie failed. If it would have showed some guards being merciful and kind (as in the book), the film would have been taken to a whole new level. (Also, they should have cut out much more of the ocean time — just saying).
I asked the book club why they thought about the title. Because it seems that Louis was broken by the end and especially afterwards. I’m not sure, but to me it seems like the highlight was him turning all that around and becoming un-broken so he could forgive and let it go. This is also what I missed in the movie (the whole “after” part was cut down to just a couple sentences on a black screen), where the climax for the director seemed to be the whole holding up the log thing — while certainly impressive and showing his determination, it was just another example, not a big turning point.
I also enjoyed the little rebellions of the prisoners that were highlighted in the book (but only very briefly in the movie), because it showing the survival and resilience that are part of the book’s title.
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