LOS ANGELES – Louis Zamperini was an Olympian, World War II veteran and a surviving prisoner of war. And his strong faith story opens in theaters across the country this weekend.
"Unbroken: Path to Redemption" picks up where Angelina Jolie's 2014 epic war drama ended at his emotional homecoming.
Filmmaker Harold Cronk directs the new film, alongside producer Matthew Baer. Baer worked with Jolie on the first film.
Fight for His Life Turns into Fight for His Soul
Cronk told CBN News, "The first film was a horrific, tragic story of his fight for his life and the second film was his struggle to save his soul."
Baer told CBN News, "There is nobody more inspirational than Lou Zamperini, especially as portrayed in the film. All the terrible things that he goes through."
This chapter of Louis' life introduces audiences to his wife Cynthia. And while the military war is over, an emotional battle plays out in the young couple's lives.
Out of Physical Prison; Held Captive in Mind, Spirit
Merritt Patterson plays the role of Cynthia. And shared her personal take on the story with CBN News.
"He physically left prison," Patterson said.
"But he is very much in prison in his head. It causes a lot of struggle between them."
Samuel Hunt plays the role of Louis Zamperini.
Hunt described the story, telling CBN News, "What's nice about this too is that sometimes you will see war movies … and it's very important to see the human element of war films so that people can relate to the experience.
"It's a human experience that we have all had in some form or some capacity."
Louis' son Luke Zamperini served as a producer for the film.
Luke told CBN News, "This is the climax to the story of my father's life."
"All that he went through before with the athletics, and the Olympics and the life raft and the prison camp."
Broken War Vet Zamperini Meets Young Evangelist Billy Graham
"The climax is after spiraling out of control with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, that he is able to come to faith on that evening in October of 1949 and changed his life. It is the climatic part of his entire story."
That October night in 1949 is when Lou Zamperini and his wife Cynthia went to a tent meeting in California to hear a young evangelist who had not quite made a name for himself on the national scene, Billy Graham.
Billy Graham's grandson, Will Graham, plays the role of his grandfather in the film.
Will Graham told CBN News, "I knew the story from 'Unbroken.' I knew the story from my grandfather's tales. So, I know the story pretty well."
"I have seen the movie. And every time I see it … I am crying."
That camp meeting also began a lasting friendship between the two men.
Will Graham told CBN News, "They had a great friendship. It lasted a whole lifetime, two lifetimes, really. We are grateful at how God brought these two men together."