The Louis Zamperini Story

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

First
Broadcast
Comments
20141107

A documentary, featuring Angelina Jolie, exploring the extraordinary life of Louis Zamperini, an archetypal American hero, in war and peace.

Angelina Jolie shares some very personal insight in to the important role that the American war hero has played in her life. She talks openly about her deep respect for Louis with historian Dr Uta Balbier, who tells his compelling story.

Louis Zamperini broke an American sporting record when he was 19, qualifying to run the 5,000 metres in the 1936 Berlin Olympics - the youngest athlete to ever represent his country. He didn't win, but still became a household name - a sports hero, who gained notoriety for stealing Hitler's flag from his Berlin HQ as a memento.

A few years later, the nation was at war and Zamperini joined the US Air Force, trained as a bombardier and was posted to the Pacific theatre, where he crewed on a B-24 bomber. His plane crashed in April 1942 and he was one of three survivors who spent 47 days drifting on a raft before being captured by the Japanese. He was interned in a prisoner of war camp where he endured 2 and a half years of regular brutal punishment.

Once he was released, Louis Zamperini became a born again Christian and devoted his life to redemption - travelling to Japan to track down each guard who abused him and personally forgiving them.

For the next 60 years, Zamperini devoted his life to teaching the importance of forgiveness and he became a popular and successful public speaker.

Angelina Jolie explains why Louis was so influential and how he provided her with a sense of purpose in her own private and professional life.

Produced by Des Shaw

A Ten Alps production for BBC Radio 4.