Unbroken (film)

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Unbroken poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Angelina Jolie
Produced by Angelina Jolie
Matthew Baer
Erwin Stoff
Clayton Townsend
Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen[1]
Richard LaGravenese
William Nicholson
Based on Unbroken 
by Laura Hillenbrand
Starring Jack O'Connell
Domhnall Gleeson
Garrett Hedlund
Takamasa Ishihara
Music by Alexandre Desplat[2]
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Edited by Tim Squyres
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • November 17, 2014 (2014-11-17) (Sydney premiere)
  • December 25, 2014 (2014-12-25)
Running time
137 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $65 million[4]
Box office $141.2 million[5]

Unbroken is a 2014 American biographical war drama film, produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, and based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The film revolves around the life of USA Olympian and athlete Louis "Louie" Zamperini, portrayed by Jack O'Connell. Zamperini, who survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed in World War II, and was sent to a series of prisoner of war camps.

The film had its world premiere in Sydney on November 17, 2014, and received a wide release in the United States on December 25, 2014. The film received mixed reviews from critics.


The film opens showing Louis "Louie" Zamperini flying as a bombardier of a United States Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator bomber, during an April 1943 bombing mission against the Japanese-held island of Nauru. The plane is badly damaged in combat, with a number of the crew injured. The brakes of the plane are shot away, but the pilot, Phil, manages to bring it to a stop at the end of the runway thanks to a flat tire.

The film flashes back to Louie's childhood as a young Italian-American boy in Torrance, California. Louie is a troublemaker, stealing, drinking liquor, and smoking, to the disappointment of his parents. He is picked on by other kids for being Italian. One day, Louie is caught looking up women's dresses from under bleachers during a track meet, and runs. His brother Peter sees how fast he runs, and decides to train him to be a runner. Peter trains Louie every day to become his best. As he grows, Louie becomes an accomplished distance runner, earning him the nickname "The Torrance Tornado," and eventually qualifies for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Louie does surprisingly well in the Olympics, coming in 8th and setting a record for speed in the final lap in the 5000 metres race, running it in 56 seconds.

Returning to 1943, Louie and the surviving crew of the previous mission, along with replacement crewmen, are sent on a search and rescue mission with a plane that had previously been used for spare parts. Louie does not believe that the plane is airworthy, but the others tell him that it is suitable. During the mission, however, both of the plane's left engines fail, causing them to crash in the ocean. Louie and two others, Mac and Phil (the pilot of this, and the previous mission) survive and live on two inflatable rafts. After three days, a search plane flies over them but does not see them and they are unable to get its attention. On the 27th day, they get the attention of a Japanese plane, which strafes the floating rafts but misses them. On the 33rd day Mac dies, leaving only Louie and Phil.

On the 47th day, Japanese forces capture Louie and Phil and they become prisoners of war. The Japanese force Louie and Phil to tell them what they know about the Allies. Louie tells them that he doesn't know anything because he's been stuck on the raft for more than a month. Their captors do not believe them and send Louie and Phil to a P.O.W. camp.

Louie and Phil are separated into different camps. The camp in Tokyo, where Zamperini is sent, is headed by a Japanese corporal, Mutsuhiro "Bird" Watanabe, who treats him very cruelly, in part because of Zamperini's status as a former Olympian. Bird is especially tough on Louie out of jealousy, beating him often. Louie is given the opportunity to broadcast a message home saying that he is alive. When he refuses to broadcast a second message that would be anti-American he is sent back to camp where Watanabe has all the other prisoners punch him for not showing respect.

After two years, Watanabe gets a promotion and is taken out of the camp where Zamperini is being held. Louie is grateful that he is gone. One night the camp is damaged when Tokyo is bombed by American forces. Louie and the other internees are forced to move to another camp where Zamperini discovers, to his horror, that Watanabe is in charge. The prisoners are now put to work loading coal barges. One day after Louis sprains his ankle and is unable to work, "Bird" tells him to lift a giant piece of wood. Louis successfully lifts and holds up the wood, angering Watanabe and leading to a harsh beating. At the end of the war, Zamperini and the other prisoners in the camp are set free to return to their homes. Back home in America, he kisses the ground and hugs his family.

At the end of the film, there is a slideshow showing what happened after the war. Louis was married and had two children. Phil survived and eventually married his sweetheart. Mutsuhiro "Bird" Watanabe went into hiding for several years and successfully evaded prosecution in spite of being listed in the top 40 most-wanted Japanese war criminals by General Douglas MacArthur. Louie forgave his war-time captors and met with many of them. Watanabe, however, refused to meet with Zamperini.

In January 1998, Louis had an opportunity to revisit his time as an Olympian when he ran a leg of the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. He was four days short of his 81st birthday. The site for his leg of the relay was not far from one of the POW camps where he was held during the war. The closing titles reveal that Zamperini died on July 2, 2014 at age 97.




Universal Pictures purchased the rights to the book in January 2011, having already acquired the film rights to Zamperini's life towards the end of the 1950s.[6] Early drafts for the film were written by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese while Francis Lawrence was scheduled to direct. Joel and Ethan Coen were then tapped to rewrite the script after Jolie was named director.[7]

On September 30, 2013, Jolie was confirmed to direct the film in Australia.[8] Walden Media was originally set as Universal's co-financer,[9] but withdrew from the project prior to filming and were subsequently replaced by Legendary Pictures.[4] The filming was based in New South Wales and Queensland, with scenes also shot in Fox Studios Australia and Village Roadshow Studios.


Principal photography began on October 21, 2013, with post-production also being done in Australia.[10]

Some of the scenes were shot at sea in Moreton Bay on October 16, 2013.[11] On December 14, four days of filming were completed in Werris Creek, New South Wales.[12] Other scenes were shot at Cockatoo Island (New South Wales)[13]


The official film soundtrack was released on December 15, 2014, through Parlophone and Atlantic Records. The film score was composed by Alexandre Desplat.[14] The album also features "Miracles", a song written and recorded by British alternative rock band Coldplay, which was released digitally as a single on December 15.[15][16]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Alexandre Desplat, except "Miracles" written by Coldplay.


Box office[edit]

Unbroken opened in the United States on December 25, 2014 across 3,131 theaters and grossed $15.59 million on its opening day (including previews) which is the third-biggest Christmas Day debut ever, behind Les Misérables ($18 million), and Sherlock Holmes ($24 million) and the fifth-biggest Christmas Day gross ever.[17][18] The film was among one of the four widely released film on December 25, 2014, the other three being Walt Disney's Into the Woods (2,478 theaters), Paramount Pictures' The Gambler (2,478 theaters) and TWC's Big Eyes (1,307 theaters).[19] It earned $31,748,000 in its traditional three-day opening weekend (including its revenue from Christmas Day it earned $47.3 million) debuting at #2 at the box office behind The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies setting a record for the third-biggest Christmas debut behind Sherlock Holmes ($62 million) and Marley & Me ($36 million).[20] and fourth biggest among World World II theme movies.[21] It was the eighth film that earned $25 million plus in its debut weekend for Universal Pictures and the fifth $30 million plus debut for an "original" movie following Lone Survivor, Ride Along, Neighbors and Lucy[21] In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave Unbroken an average grade of A- on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Miyavi, Angelina Jolie, Jack O'Connell, Matthew Baer at Unbroken World Premiere in Sydney

Reviews for Unbroken have been mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 50%, based on 185 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's consensus reads, "Unbroken is undoubtedly well-intentioned, but it hits a few too many of the expected prestige-pic beats to register as strongly as it should."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[23] Most critics emphasised the good intentions Jolie had in making the film, but noted that the execution was poor, especially towards the end. Richard Roeper called the film well-made, but one note. Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian said "It's just like an epic version of a motivational poster from Hallmark," which made glib attempts to connect motivational quotes to moments in Zamperini's childhood.

The score received a mixed critical reaction upon initial release. Callum Hofler of Entertainment Junkie stated during his review of the score that, "At its finest, Unbroken is perhaps Desplat's strongest and most resonant emotional work since The Tree of Life or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, both from 2011. It comes off as bold, ambitious, yet intimate and sentimental all the same. It can be an elegant and harmonious exploration of human determination, drive and spirit." He also criticised numerous components, claiming that, "In most cases though, the primary issue with the album is its lack of energy and vitality. There is many a time where the music seems to just sit in place, lacking major progression in character, motive or mindset." He awarded the score a final rating of 6 out of 10.[24] Jorn Tillnes of Soundtrack Geek acclaimed the album, stating, "This score is pretty great. It’s been a really good year for Desplat. Godzilla and The Monuments Men at the top of the pile, but this is not far behind." He summarized with, "It is a turning point though for those who think Desplat is about boring bass rhythms and motifs. This might even get the haters to respect him as a composer." He awarded the score an 87.8 out of 100.[25]

After an early screening, Japanese nationalists asked for the film and the director to be banned from their country, due to their accusation that the film shows them in a negative stereotypical light.[26] In response, it triggered a petition by The Indo Project[27] voicing support for the movie as they see it as a reflection of what their family members in the former Dutch East Indies experienced in Japanese camps.[28] Several prominent Dutch Indos, including author Adriaan van Dis, Doe Maar-frontman Ernst Jansz, and actress Wieteke van Dort, have signed the petition in support of the film.[29]

Soon after the movie was shown, many Christians were disappointed to learn that director Angelina Jolie had left out an important part of Zamperini's life: his conversion to Christianity. Jolie decided to leave out Zampirini's fight against alchoholism and PTSD while omitting his "Billy Graham-inspired religious conversion. Page text.[30]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards February 22, 2015 Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Pending [31]
Best Sound Editing Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro Pending
Best Sound Mixing Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee Pending
American Film Institute December 8, 2014 Top Ten Films of the Year Won [32]
Art Directors Guild Awards January 31, 2015 Excellence in Production Design for a Period Film Jon Hutman Pending [33]
ASC Award February 15, 2015 Theatrical Motion Picture Roger Deakins Pending [34]
Cinema Audio Society Awards February 14, 2015 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture – Live Action David Lee, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Jonathan Allen, Paul Drenning, John Guentner Pending [35]
Critics' Choice Movie Award January 15, 2015 Best Picture Nominated [36]
Best Director Angelina Jolie Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson Nominated
Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards November 14, 2014 New Hollywood Award Jack O'Connell Won [37]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards January 12, 2015 Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Nominated [38][39]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards February 14, 2015 Best Period and/or Character Make-Up in Feature Length Motion Picture Toni G. and Nik Dorning Pending [40]
MPSE Golden Reel Awards February 15, 2015 Feature English Language - Dialogue/ADR Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro, Laura Atkinson, Glynna Grimala, Lauren Hadaway Pending [41]
Feature English Language - Effects/Foley Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro, Jay Wilkinson, Eric A. Norris, David Raines, Dan O’Connell, John T. Cucci, Karen Triest, Dan Hegeman, Nancy MacLeod, Darren "Sunny" Warkentin Pending
National Board of Review December 2, 2014 Top 10 Films Won [42]
Breakthrough Performance Jack O'Connell Won
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association December 15, 2014 Best Screenplay: Adapted Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson Nominated [43]
Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards February 4, 2015 Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture Unbroken Pending [44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kit, Borys (February 25, 2013). "Coen Brothers to Rewrite Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ filmmusicreporter (18 February 2014). "Alexandre Desplat to Score Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken'". Film Music Reporter. 
  3. ^ "UNBROKEN (15)". British Board of Film Classification. November 27, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Horn, John (April 18, 2014). "Angelina Jolie breaks the curse of 'Unbroken'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  5. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=unbroken.htm
  6. ^ Staff reports (June 9, 2014). "What you need to know about Louis Zamperini movie 'Unbroken' directed by Angelina Jolie". Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Kit, Borys (February 23, 2013). "Coen Brothers to Rewrite Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  8. ^ Frater, Patrick (30 September 2013). "Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' Set to Shoot in Oz". Variety. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. "Walden Media Set To Co-Finance Louis Zamperini Film 'Unbroken'". Deadline.com. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Bulbeck, Pip (30 September 2013). "Angelina Jolie Confirmed to Direct 'Unbroken' in Australia". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Unbroken Synopsis". onlinecinematickets.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  12. ^ Clifford, Catherine (14 December 2013). "Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie starts filming scenes for the movie 'Unbroken' in Werris Creek". ABC News. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  13. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2517423/Angelina-Jolie-directs-Unbroken-Australian-heat.html
  14. ^ "Alexandre Desplat: Unbroken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Amazon.com. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  15. ^ "New song Miracles unveiled". Coldplay.com. December 11, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  16. ^ "‘Unbroken’ Soundtrack Details". filmmusicreporter.com. November 29, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ Scott Mendelson (December 26, 2014). "Christmas Box Office: 'Unbroken,' 'Into The Woods' Score Above, 'Selma,' 'American Sniper' Score Below". Forbes. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  18. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro and Brian Brooks (December 26, 2014). "‘Unbroken’ Leads But ‘Into The Woods’ Back In Race – Christmas B.O. Update". Deadlone.com. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  19. ^ Scott Mendelson (December 27, 2014). "Friday Box Office: Jolie's 'Unbroken' Tops 'Into The Woods,' 'The Interview' Drops Hard". Forbes. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  20. ^ Scott Mendelson (December 28, 2014). "Box Office: 'Unbroken' Nabs $47M, 'Into The Woods' Conjures $46M Over Christmas Weekend". Forbes. Retrieved December 29, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c Ray Subers (December 28, 2014). "Weekend Report: 'Hobbit,' 'Unbroken,' 'Into the Woods' Score on Final Weekend of 2014". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 29, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Unbroken". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Unbroken Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
  24. ^ Hofler, Callum (22 November 2014). "UNBROKEN Score Review". Entertainment Junkie. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Jorn, Tillnes (15 December 2014). "Soundtrack Review: Unbroken". Soundtrack Geek. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Angelina Jolie's Unbroken is Racist Says Japanese Nationalists". The Guardian. Ben Child. Retrieved December 17, 2014. 
  27. ^ "The Indo Project". The Indo Project. Jeff Keasberry. Retrieved December 21, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Stop the ban on Angelina Jolie's movie, Unbroken, in Japan". The Indo Project. Inez Hollander. Retrieved December 21, 2014. 
  29. ^ "BN'ers tekenen petitie film Unbroken van Angelina Jolie". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  30. ^ [1], additional text.
  31. ^ "Oscar Nominations: 'Grand Budapest Hotel' & 'Birdman' Lead Way With 9 Noms; 'Imitation Game' Scores 8". Deadline.com. January 15, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  32. ^ "AFI Tope Ten Films". Reuters. December 8, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  33. ^ "'Birdman', 'Foxcatcher' Among Art Directors Guild Nominees". Deadline.com. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  34. ^ "ASC Awards Nominees: 'Birdman', 'Unbroken', 'Mr Turner' On Cinematographers List". Deadline.com. January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Cinema Audio Society Nominates 'American Sniper,' 'True Detective' and More". Indiewire. January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  36. ^ "‘Birdman,’ ‘Grand Budapest’ Top Critics Choice Awards Nominations". Variety. December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Winners". hollywoodawards.com. December 8, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Houston Film Critics Announce Nominees". AwardsDaily. December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  39. ^ "'Boyhood,' Larry McMurtry and the 'Grand Budapest' poster win Houston critics awards". Hitfix. January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  40. ^ "'GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY,' 'INTO THE WOODS' LEAD MAKE-UP ARTISTS AND HAIR STYLISTS GUILD NOMINATIONS". Hollywood Reporter. Hollywood Reporter. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  41. ^ "'Birdman,' 'Apes' Top 2015 Golden Reel Nominations". Deadline.com. January 14, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2015. 
  42. ^ "National Board of Review Announces 2014 Winners". Nationalboardofreview.org. December 2, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2014. 
  43. ^ "'Birdman,' 'Grand Budapest' lead St. Louis film critics nominations". Hitfix. December 11, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Visual Effects Society Awards Nominations Announced". Deadline.com. January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 

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