Unbroken (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The back of a skinny young man, holds a huge metallic beam above his head. The film's slogan is above him, and the film's title and release above the beam. The billing is at the two sides of the poster.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAngelina Jolie
Written by
Based onUnbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand
Produced by
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited by
Music byAlexandre Desplat
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • November 17, 2014 (2014-11-17) (Sydney)
  • December 25, 2014 (2014-12-25) (United States)
Running time
138 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$65 million[2]
Box office$163.4 million[3]

Unbroken is a 2014 American biographical war drama film produced and directed by Angelina Jolie and written by the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese, and William Nicholson. It is based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The film stars Jack O'Connell as American Olympian and Army officer Louis "Louie" Zamperini and Miyavi as Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) corporal Mutsuhiro Watanabe. Zamperini survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber ditched in the ocean during the Second World War, before being captured by the Japanese and being sent to a series of prisoner of war camps.

Filming took place in Australia from October 2013 to February 2014. Unbroken had its world premiere in Sydney on November 17, 2014, followed by a London premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square on November 26, 2014.[4] The film was released in the United States on December 25, 2014. It received mixed reviews from critics, though praise was given to O'Connell's performance, Deakins' cinematography and sound and Jolie's direction. It was a financial success, grossing $163 million worldwide. The film was followed by a sequel, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, in 2018.


During an April 1943 bombing mission against the Japanese-held island of Nauru, Louis "Louie" Zamperini is flying as a bombardier of a United States Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator when his plane is damaged in combat and a number of the crew injured. The pilot brings the aircraft to a stop at the end of the runway despite an exploded tire.

In a flashback to his early youth as an Italian-American boy in Torrance, California, Louie misbehaves by stealing, drinking liquor and smoking. He is often picked on by others for his Italian ethnicity. His brother Peter, seeing how fast Louie runs, trains him to be a runner. Louie becomes a disciplined distance runner, earning the nickname "The Torrance Tornado". Louie finishes 8th in the 1936 Summer Olympics and sets a record in the final lap for the 5,000-meter race.

Returning to his 1943 combat service, Louie leaves with some of the surviving crew and several replacements on a search-and-rescue mission with an old plane. One engine fails and the aircraft ultimately crashes in the ocean. Louie survives alongside two others, Phil and Mac, floating on two inflatable rafts.

On their 27th day adrift, they attract the attention of a Japanese fighter plane, which strafes and damages the rafts but misses them. Mac dies six days later. On the 47th day, Japanese sailors find and capture Louie and Phil. Now prisoners of war, Louie and Phil are imprisoned on Kwajalein Atoll. The American airmen are interrogated for info on newer bombers and the Norden bombsight. Louie states they flew older models and draws a rendering of a Philco radio. They are dragged out to disrobe and kneel on planks, expecting to be executed. Instead, they are crudely washed and shipped to Japan. Upon arrival, they are sent to different POW camps.

At camp Ōmori, in Tokyo, Louis and his fellow POWs are the responsibility of Japanese corporal Mutsuhiro Watanabe who is especially hard on Louie, beating him often. Louie is given an opportunity to broadcast a message home saying he is alive after learning the U.S. government classified him as KIA. As he refuses to broadcast another message full of anti-American propaganda, he is sent back to camp, where Watanabe has each prisoner punch him.

After two years, Watanabe is promoted to Sergeant and leaves the camp. The camp is damaged when Tokyo was bombed, so Louie and the others are moved to Naoetsu prison camp. Here, Watanabe is again in command but as he is now a Sergeant, he supervises the prisoners at work loading coal barges. Louie pauses during work and is punished by Watanabe making him lift a large wooden beam and hold it over his head. He orders a guard to shoot him if he drops it, but Louie defiantly holds it up despite his exhaustion. This enrages Watanabe as Louie stares him straight in the eye, provoking him to beat him severely.

At the end of the war, Louie and the other POWs are liberated when the Americans occupy Japan just as a bomber flies overhead and confirms that the war is over. Louie tries to find Watanabe in his quarters but sees he has already fled. He sits down, staring at a picture of Watanabe as a child alongside his father. He is returned home to America, where he kisses the ground on arriving home.

At the end of the film, there is a slideshow of the real Louie and the events in his life following the war: He married and had two children. Phil too survived and married. Mutsuhiro "The Bird" Watanabe went into hiding and evaded prosecution despite being on the top 40 most-wanted Japanese war criminals list by General Douglas MacArthur. Louie lived out his promise to convert to Christianity, to devote his life to God and to forgive his wartime captors, meeting with many of them. Many years later, however, Watanabe still refused to meet with Louie.

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




Universal Pictures purchased the rights to the book in January 2011, having already acquired the film rights to Zamperini's life story towards the end of the 1950s.[5] 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.[6]

On September 30, 2013, Jolie was confirmed to direct the film in Australia.[7] Jolie was paid a $1 million salary for directing the film.[8] Walden Media was originally set as Universal's co-financier,[9] but withdrew from the project prior to filming and were subsequently replaced by Legendary Pictures.[2] 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 16, 2013, in Queensland, Australia and ended on February 4, 2014,[10] with post-production also being done in Australia.[11]

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

The POW "Coal" scenes were all filmed at Cockatoo Island (New South Wales)[14]


The official film soundtrack was released on December 15, 2014, through Parlophone and Atlantic Records. The film score was composed by Alexandre Desplat.[15] 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.[16][17]


Box office[edit]

Unbroken grossed $115.6 million in the U.S. and Canada and $47.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $163 million, against a budget of $65 million.

The film opened in North America on December 25, 2014, across 3,131 theaters and grossed $15.6 million on its opening day (including Christmas Eve 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.[18][19] The film was one of the four widely released films 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).[20] 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).[21] and fourth biggest among World War II theme movies.[22] 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.[22]

Critical response[edit]

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

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 52% based on 230 reviews, with an average rating of 6.00/10. The website's critical 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."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100 based on 48 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[24] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale. The audience was 52 percent female and 71 percent over the age of 25.[22]

The SAG Nominating Committee gave it a standing ovation after a screening.[25]

The score received a mixed critical reaction. Callum Hofler of Entertainment Junkie stated, "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 criticized 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.[26] 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.[27]


Prior to the film's release, some Japanese nationalists asked for the film and the director to be banned from their country, largely because of a part in Hillenbrand's book, which was not depicted in the film, where she writes "POWs were beaten, burned, stabbed, or clubbed to death, shot, beheaded, killed during medical experiments, or eaten alive in ritual acts of cannibalism" by the Imperial Japanese Army.[28][29] A petition on Change.org calling for a ban attracted more than 10,000 signatures.[30] In response, it triggered a Change.org petition by Dutch Indonesian group The Indo Project voicing support for the movie, as they saw it as a reflection of what their family members in the former Dutch East Indies experienced in Japanese camps. Several prominent Dutch Indos (including those who are not descendants of former POWs), such as author Adriaan van Dis, Doe Maar frontman Ernst Jansz, and actress Wieteke van Dort, signed the petition in support of the film.[31] Another petition on Change.org calling for a release of the film in Japan, this time in Japanese, gathered more than 1,200 signatures.[30] The film was eventually released in Japan on February 6, 2016, by independent distributor Bitters End on a much smaller scale than originally intended, while Toho-Towa, the usual distributor of Universal titles, had passed on releasing the film.[32]

The film received some criticism for omitting Zamperini's fight against alcoholism and PTSD, as well as his Billy Graham-inspired religious conversion.[33][34]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result References
Academy Awards February 22, 2015 Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Nominated [35]
Best Sound Editing Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro Nominated
Best Sound Mixing Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee Nominated
American Film Institute December 8, 2014 Top Ten Films of the Year Won [36]
Art Directors Guild Awards January 31, 2015 Excellence in Production Design for a Period Film Jon Hutman Nominated [37]
ASC Award February 15, 2015 Theatrical Motion Picture Roger Deakins Nominated [38]
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 Nominated [39]
Critics' Choice Movie Award January 15, 2015 Best Picture Nominated [40]
Best Director Angelina Jolie Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson Nominated
Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Nominated
Empire Awards March 29, 2015 Best Male Newcomer Jack O'Connell Nominated [41][failed verification]
Hollywood Film Awards November 14, 2014 New Hollywood Award Jack O'Connell Won [42]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards January 12, 2015 Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Nominated [43]
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 Nominated [44]
MPSE Golden Reel Awards February 15, 2015 Feature English Language – Dialogue/ADR Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro, Laura Atkinson, Glynna Grimala, Lauren Hadaway Won [45]
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 Nominated
National Board of Review December 2, 2014 Top 10 Films Won [46]
Breakthrough Performance Jack O'Connell (also for Starred Up) Won
Saturn Awards June 25, 2015 Best Action or Adventure Film Unbroken Won [47]
Best Editing William Goldenberg, Tim Squyres Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 25, 2015 Outstanding Action Performance By Stunt Ensemble Motion Picture Unbroken Won [citation needed]
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association December 15, 2014 Best Screenplay: Adapted Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson Nominated [48][failed verification]
Best Cinematography Roger Deakins Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards February 4, 2015 Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture Bill George, Steve Gaub, Erin Dusseault, Dave Morley, Brian Cox Nominated [49]

Home media[edit]

Unbroken was released on March 24, 2015 in the United States in two formats: a one-disc standard DVD and a Blu-ray Combo pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy).[50]


A faith-based film also based on Hillenbrand's book, titled Unbroken: Path to Redemption, which depicts later events of Zamperini's life than those depicted in Unbroken, was released by Pure Flix Entertainment on September 14, 2018. It was directed by Harold Cronk with the script written by Richard Friedenberg and Ken Hixon. Aside from producer Matthew Baer and actors Vincenzo Amato and Maddalena Ischiale, who reprised the roles of Anthony and Louise Zamperini, none of the original cast or crew was involved in the new film.[51] Legendary Pictures also had no involvement with the sequel.

See also[edit]


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  4. ^ Alvarez, Joe (November 26, 2014). "Angelina Jolie Dazzled at The London Premiere of Unbroken". IKON London Magazine. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
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  6. ^ Kit, Borys (February 23, 2013). "Coen Brothers to Rewrite Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Frater, Patrick (September 30, 2013). "Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' Set to Shoot in Oz". Variety. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  8. ^ THR Staff (September 29, 2016). "Hollywood Salaries 2016: Who Got Raises (and Who Didn't), From Movie Stars to Showrunners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
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  13. ^ Clifford, Catherine (December 14, 2013). "Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie starts filming scenes for the movie 'Unbroken' in Werris Creek". ABC News. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
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  18. ^ Mendelson, Scott (December 26, 2014). "Christmas Box Office: 'Unbroken,' 'Into The Woods' Score Above, 'Selma,' 'American Sniper' Score Below". Forbes. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
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  25. ^ "Oscar Contender 'Unbroken' Unveiled to Audiences at Last". Variety. November 30, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  26. ^ Hofler, Callum (November 22, 2014). "'Unbroken' Score Review". Entertainment Junkie. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  27. ^ Jorn, Tillnes (December 15, 2014). "Soundtrack Review: Unbroken". Soundtrack Geek. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  28. ^ Ryall, Julian (December 8, 2014). "Japan's nationalists attack Angelina Jolie war film". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  29. ^ Hillenbrand, Laura (2010). Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Random House. p. 315. ISBN 978-1-4000-6416-8.
  30. ^ a b Ishikawa, Tomoya (March 17, 2015). "Jolie movie 'Unbroken' struggling to find distributor amid heavy criticism". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  31. ^ "BN'ers tekenen petitie film Unbroken van Angelina Jolie". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  32. ^ Schilling, Mark (October 21, 2015). "Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' Finally Set For Release in Japan". Variety. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  33. ^ Clayson, Amber (December 18, 2014). "'Unbroken' faith: The religious journey of Louis Zamperini". Deseret News. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  34. ^ Pulliam Bailey, Sarah (December 18, 2014). "Will 'Unbroken' disappoint Christians?". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  35. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 15, 2015). "Oscar Nominations: 'Grand Budapest Hotel' & 'Birdman' Lead Way With 9 Noms; 'Imitation Game' Scores 8". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
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  39. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan (January 13, 2015). "Cinema Audio Society Nominates 'American Sniper,' 'True Detective' and More". IndieWire. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
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  41. ^ "2018 Rakuten TV Empire Awards". Empire. March 18, 2018. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  42. ^ "Winners". hollywoodawards.com. December 8, 2014. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
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  44. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 8, 2015). "'Guardians of the Galaxy', 'Into the Woods', Lead Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  45. ^ Yamato, Jen (January 14, 2015). "'Birdman,' 'Apes' Top 2015 Golden Reel Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
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  47. ^ Kelley, Seth (March 4, 2015). "'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' and 'Interstellar' Lead Saturn Awards Noms". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
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  51. ^ Vasquez, Zach (August 24, 2018). "No rights allowed: the strange world of unofficial movie sequels". The Guardian. Retrieved September 14, 2018.

External links[edit]