Unbroken: The Alternate Ending

unbroken_ver4_xlg[Read to the bottom to find my faith-based alternate ending to Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken.]

The 40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media Challenge is on Day 7, and I’ve been pleased by some aspects of this journey (starting a daily devotional habit, discovering some interesting music, connecting with lots of fun people), and disappointed in others (that Christians have this weird fascination with copying the world’s fads, that the big players in Christian media like perpetuating a pretty myopic view of the world, that if our stories don’t have specific “come to Jesus” moments, the Christian media marketers won’t touch them).

Ultimately, I’m finding that I don’t like or appreciate the various machines that exist in Christian media, but I don’t doubt that each machine represents lots of people who are doing their best to live faithful lives for Jesus.

One happy surprise I found was that Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is sold by Christian retailers.  This surprised me, because it was a film made by a filmmaker who doesn’t appear to be a Christian, and (spoiler alert) it lacks a conversion sequence.  My family sat down to watch the film last night, and like so many, we were touched by Louie Zamperini’s amazing life experiences, and the strength that he exhibited time and time again.  The film handles issues of faith carefully and respectfully, which throws a bit of cold water on the idea that the movers and shakers in Hollywood have it out for Christians.

After the past week, I’d say that it’s more likely that the movers and shakers in Hollywood have it out for the corporate, industrialized, politicized Christianity that is so prevalent in America these days.  And with good reason.  Corporate Christianity can be irritating, holier-than-thou, out-of-touch, unintentionally and imminently mockable.  Corporate Christianity (like it’s secular brothers and sisters) loves to stir up controversy, to sensationalize for profit, and they love that the vast bulk of the faithful will eagerly swallow whatever pills they ship out to the neighborhood Christian bookstores.

The problem I have with the corporate side of my faith is that it runs so counter to the faith we’re called to in the Scriptures.  Christianity is supposed to be relational, but Corporate Christianity is driven by profit – not people.  Christianity is supposed to be about humility, but Corporate Christianity is about putting our stars up on pedestals to be loved and admired.  Christianity is about loving your enemies, but Corporate Christianity is about building bubbles so that we don’t have to interact with those who believe differently than we do.

Keep in mind, once again, I’m talking about the machine, not most of the people behind the machine.  My interaction this past week with some of the people behind the machine is that they are doing their best to follow Jesus.  Many of them are incredibly creative, and are just looking for ways to express that creativity.  They are intelligent, passionate, and concerned for those people outside of the Christian faith in a sincere and loving way.

But back to Unbroken… watching Jolie’s film got me thinking, what if some film company that produces films for the typical Christian audience had gotten their hands on Louie Zamperini’s story?  A version that would have pleased the machine?

Just for kicks and giggles, I decided to imagine how that faith-based version of Unbroken might have ended.

In case the PDF doesn’t show up on your screen, you can also click this link:

Unbroken Alternate Ending


10 thoughts on “Unbroken: The Alternate Ending

  1. Did you ever see Chariots of Fire? It’s from 1981. It’s not quite like Unbroken, but is about an Olympic runner, Eric Lydell. I don’t know if you can find it from a Christian retailer. Has a definite Christian theme, but I don’t think it’s too overbearing.

  2. It might help us,” the missionary minded Christian Creative.” to remember that the process of someone turning to God is God produced, not “us” produced. If a perfect God stands to be rejected, then the “save their souls feat” is not likely to be accomplished by our “magic words” or messages. We get caught in a weird mentality that is not really love for our fellowman, but a very driven, prideful, self centered–“I’ll say or spin the perfect scenario to win those lost morons to Christ, for Christ’s sake.” We are truly such odd creatures! We want fruit without process. What do we specifically know about our supposed audience? They are like us in that they have arms and legs and hearts and souls and breath spun out by God. In the vast scope of what God knows about each member of an audience (each “lost” and “saved” soul) we are moronically ignorant. Hence it behooves us ( my Brit papa would say) to bring truth gently and respectfully minus the moron part as much as possible (except to call ourselves morons.) I’m so grateful for this discussion, because all these years, I thought I was evil for cringing when the movies and books came to the obvious “Christian message.” Now that I see there are more who feel this way, it’s hard to ignore. But God is so good with “message problems.” I’m sure He has help and answers. We must change our delivery. Changing what we do in this area should not be a problem, because we are creative in the first place. Yes–your alternate ending is too accurate and hilarious and sad all at once. You win. Now sell it!

  3. I have no idea how the movie goes, but I did read the book. After the war, Louie gets married, but is very unhappy and makes lots of poor decisions. I forget, but I think he is an alcoholic. But he actually ends up coming to Christ after going to listen to Billy Graham! Ironically, a cliche come to Jesus moment would have been entirely appropriate and historically accurate.

    • Fair enough. I agree that it could have been appropriate and accurate if handled well, but my joke was that I wouldn’t trust a typical Christian film company to be the ones to handle it well (thus my over-the-top ending).

      I actually think Angelina Jolie would have treated that part of Louie’s life with great respect and dignity, but I think she’d told the story she wanted to tell, and narratively, the movie needed to end where it did, with Louie coming home.

      To her credit, she did make mention of the role faith played in his life with the title cards at the end, and there were small sprinklings throughout the movie – foreshadowing the role faith would play in his life later.

      • I totally agree. In fact, the latter part of the book was pretty depressing and not the best movie material. Kind of similar to that last bit of Lord of the Rings when Frodo comes home from his adventure and is unsatisfied with his life.

        This common Christian narrative where the story climaxes with the salvation of a key character is thought provoking. Does it affect how Christians evangelize in the real world? Looking for that moment of success and then moving on rather than seeing the Christian walk as a continual process? Does the clean cut Christian movie discourage Christian-media consumers from really loving people even when there is no visible “success”? I really don’t know the answer to this, because after the overt commercial motivations of Courageous, I haven’t been able to swallow any more Christian movies (other than the Song). But, do you feel like Christian media encourages or discourages engagement and long-suffering with real people?

  4. I would have also liked to see the alternate ending have a row of the audience at the bottom (MST3K style) as the credits end and have one turn to their neighbor and ask, “What is the name of the church that makes all these Christian movies?”

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