Rhetorical Analysis Essay about Unbroken Movie

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay about Unbroken Movie
Unbroken is an American film that is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 non-fiction
cognominal book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The
movie was written and produced by Angelina Jolie and tells the story of American fight against
Japan during the World War II. The plot revolves around an American soldier, Louis “Louie”
Zamperini, who survives on a raft for 47 days after their American bombardier crashes into the
ocean. Zamperini is later imprisoned into several prisoner of war camps in Japan. The movie
uses pathos to elicit various feelings, logos to appeal to the logic, and ethos to prove its reliability
and accuracy to the viewers, as it can be seen from the actions, surroundings, and circumstances
the lead hero faces.
First, pathos refers to the emotion or the feelings of a person during a particular experience.
In the movie Unbroken, the directors use a wide variety of tools to elicit different emotions in
various scenes of the movie (McCormack). In the beginning of the movie, Zamperini is shown
piloting an American bombardier jet during an attack on the Japanese-held island of Nauru (Jolie
et al.). Although the plane is badly damaged the pilot manages to bring it to a stop at the end of
the runaway. The director of the movie uses this scene to set the tone for the rest of the movie.
The movie uses pathos to influence the views of the watchers (Higgins and Walker 198).
Specifically, this starting scene imposes a mixture of shock at the accident and hope that the
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pilots will survive on the viewers. Thus, the directors of the movie made sure that they have the
audience attention chained to the screen from the very beginning.
The movie shifts to the early episodes in the life of Zamperini. As a young Italian-
American young man, Zamperini is a truant who prefers picking fights and smoking cigarettes
instead of concentrating in his class work (Jolie et al.). Throughout this time, the movie uses
pathos to depict Louie as an undisciplined boy without a bright future (Murthy and Ghosal 251).
The viewers are left wondering how the truant ends up among the crew flying the American
bombardier. During one of his escapades, Zamperini is caught looking up a woman’s dress and is
forced to flee from the ire of the angry mob (Jolie et al.). When his brother Peter observes how
fast Louie runs, he realizes that Louis can make a good athlete and trains him to realize his
potential (Hillenbrand 23). Louie gradually improves his athletic abilities and earns the nickname
“The Torrance Tornado.” Eventually, the lead character makes it to the Summer Olympics of
1936 in Berlin, where he comes in eighth, however setting a record for the time on the final lap
of the race (Jolie et al.). Throughout these scenes, the director of the movie depicts Louie as a
determined young boy with a great future. Consequently, the viewer cannot help but admire the
accomplishments of the young man who, in the previous events, was too indiscipline to achieve
anything in life.
The movie then moves back to the year 1943 when Louie and the other surviving members
of the crew are sent on a rescue mission. As the mission goes on, one of the engines of the plane
starts acting up, and while trying to bundle up on one engine the crew still ends up crashed in the
ocean (Hillenbrand 47). The director of the movie begins with an optimistic tone and the
spectators admire Louie, who is definitely on the path to greatness. However, these expectations
do not last long because the plane crashes into the ocean. During this turbulent time, Louie is the
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constant inspiration for the others even at some point telling Mac to “Shut up” when he suggests
that they will die on the ocean.
The director leaves the audience in suspense as it waits and hopes that the crew members
will survive. During this scene, the director uses pathos to evoke a variety of emotions in the
souls and hearts of the viewers (Higgins and Walker 201). First, there is the rescue plane that
comes for Louie and his accomplices but does not find them. Next, Louie and his colleagues
have to fight off a shark attack while surviving on fish, birds, rations, and rainwater (Jolie et al.).
Phil even manages to joke that “This is how the Japs eat fish. Raw.” While their conditions are
dire, the viewers cannot help but admire the crew members for their bravery in the face of
uncertainty and danger. However, during this time one of the crew members, Mac, dies. When a
Japanese strike misses them, Phil muses that “If the Japs are this bad, we might even win this
damn war.”
During their time in captivity, the directors of the movie continue to use pathos to appeal
to the emotions of the viewers. In the dungeon, where Louie and Phil are kept, they learn that the
previous captured American soldiers were beheaded and the two wait for their imminent death
anxiously (Jolie et al.). Later, Phil and Louie are sent to different prisoner of war camps where
they are tortured continuously. Louie is sent to the Omori detention center in Tokyo whose head,
Mutsuhiro Watanabe, tortures him due to his status as a former Olympian and American soldier
(Jolie et al.). At some point, Watanabe asks Louie how they operated the Nawdn bombsight.
Louie replies “You just twist two knobs,” and asks “What happened to the Marines?
Throughout the torture, the directors of the movie show the perseverance of the imprisoned
soldiers. In one instance, when Louie is exhausted, Watanabe orders him to lift a log and tells
him he will be shot in case of failure (Hillenbrand 221). However, Louie musters enough
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strength to lift the log and even dares to look Watanabe in the eye. Louie is saved when the war
ends and he returns home and even forgives his captors.
Hence, the movie Unbroken uses logos to appeal to the logic of their viewers. First, the
movie is inspired by the real story that reflects the fate of almost every American soldier who has
been in military captivity. Therefore, all the scenes of the movie stay true to the real-life story of
Zamperini. For example, the life story of Zamperini mirrors that of the main actor Jack
O’Connell. This is reflected from the time of birth of Zamperini in 1917 to his death in 2014
(Jolie et al.). Additionally, the movie is a representation of the World War II and the dates
depicted in it mirror the events of the war. For example, Zamperini is captured on the 47
after the American bombardier crashes into the ocean. Furthermore, Hillenbrand’s book depicts
the inhumane treatment of captured soldiers in a similar way to the movie (Higgins and Walker
203). In her book, she writes that the prisoners of war were shot, burned, stabbed to death,
beaten, and killed during medical experiments.
Moreover, the movie Unbroken uses logos when depicting the life of American soldiers.
First, the majority of the fighters are endowed with athletic talents as is the case with Zamperini.
Therefore, it is only natural that Zamperini extends his athletic heroics into the army. During his
life in captivity, the lead hero faces similar predicaments that face American soldiers who are
captured abroad (Murthy and Ghosal 254). He is held in a prisoner of war camp where he is
tortured through beatings and hard labor. After the torture, Zamperini is given a way out of the
punishment if he agrees to send a message to the Americans back home (Jolie et al.). This is one
of the common techniques of spreading propaganda. While Zamperini agrees to send the first
message home, he is not freed as he had been promised. Thereafter, he refuses to send a second
message home as is the case with many American soldiers who refuse to give away their secrets
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to the enemy. With this in mind, it is only logical that some soldiers, such as Mac, die during the
The movie Unbroken makes a strong appeal to ethos to prove its reliability and accuracy.
First, the movie uses the language that is common during a war (McCormack). For example,
there is the use of such terms as soldiers, general, and bombardier. Secondly, the movie depicts a
lot of the items found during a war. For instance, the actors wear military fatigue and the
prisoners of war camps are found in remote areas with inhumane conditions. Furthermore, the
movie uses a balanced tone and does not come across as judgmental (Murthy and Ghosal 254).
The directors of the movie aim to show the courage and resilience of the soldiers without taking
The use of the first person narration avoids the bias that could result from the third person
narration. Furthermore, the narrators are effective when moving from one scene to the next
which ensures that the viewer experiences all the different circumstances of the movie. More
importantly, the use of several figures of speech throughout the movie enables the viewers to
identify with the characters (McCormack). For example, there are groans and mutterings when
Zamperini is beaten in detention. Finally, the reactions of the different actors are similar to those
of ordinary people in various circumstances. For example, the soldiers remain hopeful even
when their plane crashes. On the other hand, they have to persevere the torture in the detention.
In conclusion, the movie uses pathos, logos, and ethos effectively to provide a truthful
and insightful account of Zamperini’s imprisonment in Japan during World War II. The movie
uses pathos to appeal to the emotions of the viewers by showing the different conditions of the
actors such as hope, fear, disillusionment, resignation, perseverance, and forgiveness.
Additionally, logos appeals to logic by drawing on a real-life experience of a captured soldier
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and drawing their parallels to the serving soldiers of the country. Finally, the movie uses ethos to
appeal to the real-life reliability of the movie by using the first-person style of narration.
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Works Cited
Higgins, Colin and Robyn Walker. “Ethos, logos, pathos: Strategies of persuasion in
social/environmental reports.” Accounting Forum, vol. 36, no. 3, 2012, pp. 194-208.
Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
Random House, 2010.
Jolie, Angelina, Matthew Baer, Erwin Stoff, and Clayton Townsend. Unbroken. Directed by
Angelina Jolie, Legendary Pictures, Jolie Pas, & 3 Arts Entertainment, 25 Dec. 2014.
McCormack, Krista. “Ethos, Pathos, and Logos: The Benefits of Aristotelian Rhetoric in the
Courtroom.” Washington University Jurisprudence Review,
. Accessed 10 Jul. 2017.
Murthy, Madhavi Latha and Madhumita, Ghosal. “A Study of Aristotle’s Rhetoric.” Research
Journal of English Language and Literature, vol. 2, no. 4, 2014, pp. 249-255.

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