Shipwrecks, Sharks, And The Japanese In Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’

Senior Editor
10.16.14 24 Comments

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption was written by Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote Seabiscuit, and it’s written in the same uplifting, slightly melodramatic, Disney-movie style, but the story it tells is unstoppable. Louis Zamperini went from juvenile delinquent to college track star, to hero of Hitler’s Olympics in 1936, where he met the Führer (our pet name for Hitler at my house) and almost got arrested for stealing a Nazi flag. He was closing in on the four-minute mile when WWII broke out, and became a bombardier. His plane crash landed in the Pacific during a search mission in 1943, and he spent the next 47 days drifting on a life raft, fighting off thirst, hunger, sharks, and pretty much every problem you could have short of a tiger. When he and his crew were finally rescued, it was by the Japanese, who took them to a brutal POW camp where they had to endure starvation and daily beatings, plus the constant threat of execution or being bombed by their own country. All in all, a series of ordeals even worse than the 45 minutes I spent at the Apple Store yesterday.

The film version was adapted by the Coen Brothers and is directed by Angelina Jolie in her second feature. It opens Christmas Day, and so far, my only criticism is that they hired an English guy (Jack O’Connell, or as I like to call him, Not Anton Yelchin) to play an Italian-American, and he’s not nearly hairy enough. Yet another sickening example of Hollywood’s Nair-ing of history.

Unbroken-Running

Universal

Zamperini, in 1940.

Getty Image

Zamperini, in 1940.

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