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"Unbroken" - Angelina Jolie's POW Film

Updated on August 6, 2014
The B 24 Liberator, the model flown by Louis Zamperini during World War II. He also used a B 24D Green Hornet.
The B 24 Liberator, the model flown by Louis Zamperini during World War II. He also used a B 24D Green Hornet. | Source

A Stunning Story to Surpass Jess Owens's

As of this writing, World War II has been over for 67 years, the final and Jubilee Celebratory Memorial of the attack on Pearl Harbor was held in 2011, and a WWII Memorial has been built in Washington DC with the help of Tom Hanks, who never did commercials for anything else.

Despite all of the time passed, we continue to find jaw dropping stories of individuals in the war. Many have never spoken about WWII, but their stories finally surfaced. Some veterans are still alive, including 95-year-old (in 2012) Louis Zamperini. Many thought that the story of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics was the more powerful story of the age. We even display his Olympic Gold Medal in the Thompson Library museum area in its lobby at The Ohio State University from time to time.

However, Zamperini's own experience at Berlin and in the war is yet a level above Owens's. It drove Angelina Jolie to aggressively pursue the opportunity to make her first film for a major studio, Universal Pictures. Screenwriting began in 2012.

First Film Trailer

Zamp the Champ

Louis began running at his brother's suggestion in order to burn off extra energy and avoid scenarios like hopping freight trains on which he was injured and capturing cows in dead-end canyons in Southern California. He was good enough at running early on that he was expected to be the first man to break the 4-minute mile. However, he craved danger, not just speed.

In 1936, after coming in 8th in the 5000-meter race with a final lap of less than a minute, Zamperini climbed up on onto the roof of The Reich Chancellory and stole Adoph's Hitler's own Nazi Flag. He still has it at home in California.

At age 81, Zamperini carried the Olympic Flame through Naoetsu, the site of his transfer POW camp at the end of the war, to the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998, 62 years after his first and only Olymics participation as an athlete. In Naeoetsu, he carried the Olympic Flame right past the old POW camp.

While he never broke the 4-minute mile - he came as close a 4'12" - "Zamp" set a college record for the mile that held from 1938 - 1953.

(References: Wright Patterson Air force Base aviation history archives.)

Louis Silvie "Louie" Zamperini (January 26, 1917 – July 2, 2014)

Louis Zamperini at announcement of 2015 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal.
Louis Zamperini at announcement of 2015 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal. | Source

Unbroken: History, Olympic Torch, and Medals

Louis Zamperini's Route to Freedom

show route and directions
A markerBerlin, Germany -
Berlin, Germany
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Zamperini ran the 5000-meter at the Berlin Olympics with little training and came in 8th overall. He visited the Berlin Staduim again in 2005.

B markerTuvalu - Funafuti Atoll -
get directions

Location of Zamperini's Army Air Corps deployment after joining in Septermber 1941.

C markerMarshall Islands -
Marshall Islands
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His 11-man B-24 had structural malfunctions over the Pacific Ocean. Louis made it to the Marshall Islands by raft after two comrades died on it.

D markerJapan -
get directions

Louis Zamperini was held captive in Japan for 2 years, starved and tortured, but survived. He carried the Olympic Flame past his old POW camp in 1998.

E markerHollywood -
Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA
get directions

Louis Zamperini lives in Hollywood, widowed since 2001, and operates a Victory Boys Camp. He saw Reverend Billy Graham again in 2011.

Louis Zamperini during WWII.
Louis Zamperini during WWII. | Source

Greg "Pappy" Boyington Was In the Same POW Camp

  • WWII: The USMC Black Sheep Squadron's Sioux Commander

    Researching World War II history has been incfeedible. I've discovered groups servicemen and women, non-military staff and general volunteers, all that have eventually received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Pappy Boynton served time in a Japanese POW camp and shared Italian recipes with him to pass the time.

  • Major Events of WWII: The Platinum Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

    The 70th commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day is the Platinum Anniversary in 2011 of the attack on the Hawaiian port city. This was the last celebration to include the survivors of the attack, because of advancing age. Even the organizeers were in their 80s and 90s.

5 stars for UNBROKEN

Movie Information for "Unbroken"

Film based on book: Unbroken (2010)

Author: Laura Hillenbrand

Also wrote: Seabiscuit (2002) - The 2003 film is tremendous.

Screenwriter: William Nicholson

Also wrote: Gladiator (2000), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and "Les Misérables" (released Christmas 2012)

Laura Hillenbrand suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and has suffered pain for over 30 years. Because of this plight and the fact that she continues to work through it, war hero Louis Zamperini sent her one of his Purple Hearts.

Unbroken, the book, has been on the New York Best Sellers List for 108 weeks as of this writing.

The film as been the property of Universal for a full 55 years at this writing. In the beginning, actor Tony Curtis wanted to play Louis Zamperini. Some rumors on Goodreads indicate that Nicholas Cage may be considered for the part, while most opinions run to James Franco or Christian Bale.

Casting For "Unbroken"

Who should play Louis Zamperini in Unbroken?

See results

Zamp the Missionary

After his release from the Japanese POW camp, Louis Zamperini heard Billy Graham preach at one of his frequent crusades, went forward, and became Christian. In fact, during 1950, Mr. Zamperini returned to Japan as a Christian missionary and tracked down as many of his Japanese captors as he could, to forgive them face-to-face. This took a lot of effort.

Memorial Tribute in 2014


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @RachelOhalloran - Thanks for visiting and voting!

      I had heard only of the lead male cast member, Jack O'Connell, along with Luke Treadaway and Miyavi, who is a Japanese rock star. Don't know the rest at all -- I saw that the budget is $65 million, about in the middle of the range these days. Guardians of the Galaxy used $170 million and has made over $611 million so far, but it had a lot of FX and lots of star actors.

      I was impressed by Jolie's spending time with Louis Zamperini and developing a friendship, spreading his story out of respect and appreciation. I wonder if she waived her director's fee? She was very sad when he died recently. The film will be out Christmas Day 2014 and I am eager to see it!

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

      Hi Patty,

      I don't recognize any of the cast names on the list. I wonder if this movie has a big budget because other than Jolie directing, they aren't using any big names as a draw. Given the subject matter, it looks like it will be a really interesting movie. War pictures seem to do well and who knows, maybe one of the newcomers in the cast will get his big break from this movie!

      Voted up and interesting.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Al Pacino is an interesting choice and I think he could play the part, especially if the film contains the character's later life. Thanks very much for reading and making a suggestion!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Patty, I think Al Pacino to play Pete Zamperini would have been my choice, but I don't pretend to know more than the directors who chose the people in what they direct.

      I is very interesting and I am sorry I missed it when it was first written.

      Voted up, ABI and shared.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      The cast has been announced:

      Jack O'Connell as Louis Zamperini

      Miyavi as Mutsuhiro "The Bird" Watanabe

      Garrett Hedlund as John Fitzgerald

      Jai Courtney as Hugh "Cup" Cuppernell

      Domhnall Gleeson as Russell "Phil" Phillips

      Finn Wittrock as Francis "Mac" McNamara

      Alex Russell as Pete Zamperini

      Luke Treadaway as Miller

      Jordan Patrick Smith as Cliff

      John Magaro as Frank A. Tinker

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I think it ill be a top notch movie and I really want to see it asap. Hopefully in 2013 - 2014.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Based on your fascinating description of Louis Zamperini and his exploits during World War II, I look forward to seeing 'Unbroken' directed by Jolie. Thanks, Patty, for the heads-up.