Jolie unveils first footage from survival saga of ‘true hero’

Have your say

Angelina Jolie has revealed footage from her upcoming survival saga Unbroken, which she directed and produced.

“I wanted to make this film because its message is one that we all need now more than ever,” said Jolie, who took to the stage in a surprise appearance at CinemaCon, the annual convention of cinema exhibitors, in Las Vegas.

Shot in Sydney, Australia, last year, the film tells the true story of Lou Zamperini, a Second World War hero and athlete who ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Zamperini survived a harrowing 47 days afloat in the Pacific Ocean following the 1943 crash of his US military plane and spent the following two years as a prisoner of war after washing up behind Japanese lines.

Developed originally by Universal Pictures in 1957, the biopic was supposed to star Tony Curtis, said Universal chairwoman Donna Langley. But after many false starts the project never took shape. It was not until Zamperini’s story caught the attention of Jolie that the film really began to evolve.

“She fought for it and earned the right to direct it,” said Ms Langley, who called Jolie “a true film-maker”.

Unbroken, to be released in December starrring Jack O’Connell, is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, And Redemption, which chronicles Zamperini’s life.

“Lou Zamperini is the toughest man I have ever met,” said Jolie. “He’s a fighter and true hero. He is also a man of faith, full of love and humility. He sounds perfect. But he wasn’t always. Smoking, stealing and drinking by the time he was nine, he was convinced he was worth nothing and full of darkness.”

The footage teased revealed affecting scenes of Zamperini’s struggles, from his efforts to escape from his military plane after it crashed into the ocean, to the beatings he underwent as a prisoner. Jolie said Zamperini’s journey could remind us of what we were capable of. “Gain strength from our family, identify our fears and our pain, come face to face with darkness and never give up,” she said.

Unbroken is the second time Jolie has directed a feature, following the 2011 war drama In The Land Of Blood And Honey.