‘Unbroken’ Angelina Jolie to Direct the Untold Story of Louis Zamperini

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Unbroken, a film directed by Angelina Jolie, is about the unknown story of the late Louis Zamperini. The movie is set for a Christmas Day release, and is already getting a lot of attention because of the cast, writers and Jolie’s directing. Richard LaGravenese, best known for writing P.S. I Love You (2007) and Paris, je t’aime (2006), and William Nicholson, best know for writing Gladiator (2000) and Les Misérables (2012), originally wrote the screenplay for Unbroken in 2011, but once Jolie was tapped to direct the film, the Coen brothers were asked to rewrite it. Ethan and Joel Coen have won two Oscars for writing. They won one for No Country for Old Men (2007), and one for Fargo (1996). They have also written such classic films as True Grit (2010), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), and The Big Lebowski (1998).

The cast for the third film that Jolie has directed, Unbroken, does not consist of many A-lister stars. Jack O’Connell, known for his role as James Cook in the television series Skins, will play the main protagonist Louis Zamperini. Garrett Hedlund from TRON: Legacy will be John Fitzgerald, Domhnall Gleeson from About Time will be Russell Allen Phillips, Finn Wittrock from Noah will be Francis McNamara, and Jai Courtney from Divergent will be Hugh Cuppernell.

The unknown story of Louis Zamperini (1917-2014) that Jolie will direct, was first told in the 2010 non-fiction book written by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The book is the story of Zamperini’s miraculous story of strength from a childhood troublemaker to Olympic athlete, then military pilot in the Pacific theater of World War II, where he was captured and interned as a Japanese prisoner of war for over two years.

Zamperini passed away on July 2, 2014. He was 97 and the cause of death was pneumonia. His death has caused the book based on his life, to rise in sales, jumping from number 88 on USA Today’s best sellers list all the way to seventh. It has been in the top 100 best selling books for over 160 straight weeks, rising as high as number three upon its initial release in 2010. The first paperback edition of Unbroken is to be released by Random House publishers on July 29.

The film was previewed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to honor Zamperini, who never medalled at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but did run his last lap in the 5,000 meter race in an astonishing 56 seconds. Today Apple trailers released an exclusive look at the film produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film’s budget is thought to be around 65 million according to the Los Angeles Times. Jolie has said that she really enjoyed directing and has hinted at scaling down her acting career to more fully focus on being a director.

The trailer, which is around two and a half minutes long, focuses on Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell. He is repeatedly shown overcoming physical and mental struggles that are put in front of him from childhood to adulthood. He creates love from cruelty, and joy from sorrow, as author Hillenbrand puts it. Unbroken looks extremely inspirational and will likely be nominated for a few awards because of its rousing unknown story of Louis Zamperini, exceptional writing by the Coen brothers, and the directing of Angelina Jolie.

By B. Taylor Rash

USA Today
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