The film, which premieres this Christmas, is a historical drama that documents the unbelievable true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympian and World War II hero. Zamperini, now 97, competed for the United States at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and caught the attention of Hitler himself.
He enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in 1941, and survived 47 days at sea after his plane was shot down in combat. Having finally reaching land in the Marshall Islands, Zamperini and his crewmate were immediately captured by the Japanese Navy. He spent over three more years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp until WWII came to a close in August 1945. Finally, Zamperini was able to return home to a hero's welcome.
The film was written by Joel and Ethan Cohen, Richard LaGravenese, and William Nicholson, and is based on the best-selling biography by Laura Hillenbrand. Unbroken is Jolie's second directorial effort, following her 2011 film In the Land of Blood and Honey.
In a recent interview with Tom Brokaw, Jolie stated that working on Unbroken was "the hardest thing I've ever done." In order to secure funding for the film, Jolie says she spent hours on "phone calls...made all these boards...took glue and tape and pictures off the internet. I put all of my boards in a garbage bag and carried them to Universal myself...I pitched my butt off."
The interview features Brokaw sitting down with both Jolie and Zamperini, who seem to share a very close relationship. Hand-in-hand with Zamperini, Jolie says that as her work on the film progressed, the story became "very personal" for her.
The actress says she felt "a huge responsibility to get [the story] right...because I love him so much, and because he's helped me so much in my life." Jolie states she wants his extraordinary story to be an inspiration for all, and that "the resilience and strength of the human spirit is an extraordinary thing." Zamperini himself says, "Don't give up and don't give in. There's always an answer to everything."