Unbroken (film)

Last updated

Unbroken poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Angelina Jolie
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Edited by
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • November 17, 2014 (2014-11-17)(Sydney)
  • December 25, 2014 (2014-12-25)(United States)
Running time
137 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$65 million [2]
Box office$163.4 million [3]

Unbroken is a 2014 American war film produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, written by the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese, and William Nicholson, 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 USA Olympian and army officer Louis "Louie" Zamperini, who survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber crash-landed in the ocean during the Second World War, then was sent to a series of prisoner of war camps.

War film Film genre depicting wars

War film is a film genre concerned with warfare, typically about naval, air, or land battles, with combat scenes central to the drama. It has been strongly associated with the 20th century. The fateful nature of battle scenes means that war films often end with them. Themes explored include combat, survival and escape, camaraderie between soldiers, sacrifice, the futility and inhumanity of battle, the effects of war on society, and the moral and human issues raised by war. War films are often categorized by their milieu, such as the Korean War; the most popular subject is the Second World War. The stories told may be fiction, historical drama, or biographical. Critics have noted similarities between the Western and the war film.

Angelina Jolie American actress, film director and screenwriter

Angelina Jolie is an American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian. The recipient of such accolades as an Academy Award and three Golden Globe Awards, she has been named Hollywood's highest-paid actress multiple times.

Coen brothers American filmmakers

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, collectively referred to as the Coen brothers , are American filmmakers. Their films span many genres and styles, which they frequently subvert or parody. Their most acclaimed works include Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), No Country for Old Men (2007), True Grit (2010), and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).


The film 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 praised O'Connell's performance and Jolie's direction and was a moderate financial success, grossing $163 million worldwide. The film was followed by a sequel, Unbroken: Path to Redemption , in 2018.

Sydney City in New South Wales, Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom, as well as the largest city within the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Odeon Leicester Square Cinema in London, England

Odeon Luxe Leicester Square is a prominent cinema building in London's West End. Built in the Art Deco style and completed in 1937, the building has been continually altered to in response to developments in cinema technology, and was the first Dolby Cinema in the United Kingdom. The cinema is often used for film premieres.


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 bomber when his plane is damaged in combat, with a number of the crew injured. The pilot, Phil, brings it to a stop at the end of the runway suffering from an exploded tire.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Nauru Republic in Oceania

Nauru, officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia, a subregion of Oceania, in the Central Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, 300 kilometres (190 mi) to the east. It further lies northwest of Tuvalu, north of the Solomon Islands, east-northeast of Papua New Guinea, southeast of the Federated States of Micronesia and south of the Marshall Islands. With only a 21-square-kilometre (8.1 sq mi) area, Nauru is the third-smallest country in the world behind Vatican City and Monaco, making it the smallest state in the South Pacific Ocean, the smallest state outside of Europe, the smallest island state, and the smallest republic. Additionally, its population of 11,347 is the world’s third smallest, after the Vatican and Tuvalu.

Louis Zamperini American middle distance runner

Louis Silvie Zamperini was an American World War II veteran, a Christian evangelist and an Olympic distance runner, best known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor.

As a young Italian-American boy in Torrance, Louie misbehaves by stealing, drinking liquor and smoking. He is often picked on by others due to his Italian ethnicity. His brother Peter sees how fast Louie can run and decides to train him to be a runner. Louie becomes disciplined and becomes a distance runner, earning the nickname "The Torrance Tornado". Louie comes in 8th in the 1936 Summer Olympics and sets a record in the final lap for the 5,000-meter race.

Torrance, California City in California

Torrance is a U.S. city in the South Bay (southwestern) region of Los Angeles County, California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Torrance has 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Torrance has a moderate year-round climate with warm temperatures, sea breezes, low humidity, and an average rainfall of 12.55 inches per year.

1936 Summer Olympics games of the XI Olympiad, celebrated in Berlin in 1936

The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in 1936 in Berlin, Nazi Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain, on 26 April 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona. It marked the second and final time the International Olympic Committee gathered to vote in a city that was bidding to host those Games.

5000 metres long-distance track running event

The 5000 metres or 5000-metre run is a common long-distance running event in track and field. It is one of the track events in the Olympic Games and the World Championships in Athletics, run over 12.5 laps of a standard track. The same distance in road running is called a 5K run. The 5000 m has been present on the Olympic programme since 1912 for men and since 1996 for women. Prior to 1996, women had competed in an Olympic 3000 metres race since 1984. The 5000 m has been held at each of the World Championships in Athletics in men's competition and since 1995 in women's.

Returning to 1943, Louie, the surviving crew and several replacements are sent on a search-and-rescue mission with a plane previously used for spare parts. One left engine fails, while the crew bungles the remaining engine, and they crash in the ocean. Louie, Mac, and Phil survive, living on two inflatable rafts. On the 27th day they attract the attention of a Japanese plane, which strafes and damages the rafts but misses them. Mac dies 6 days later. On the 47th day, Japanese sailors capture Louie and Phil. Now, prisoners of war, Louie and Phil are put in a Kwajalein Atoll dungeon. The Japanese ask Louie and Phil for information about newer bombers and the Norden bombsight. Louie states they flew older models and draws a rendition of a Philco radio. They are dragged out to disrobe and kneel on planks. Instead of being executed, they are crudely washed and shipped to Japan. Upon arrival, the two are separated and sent to different POW camps.

Kwajalein Atoll atoll

Kwajalein Atoll is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The southernmost and largest island in the atoll is named Kwajalein Island, which its majority English-speaking residents often called by the shortened name, Kwaj. The total land area of the atoll amounts to just over 6 square miles (16 km2). It lies in the Ralik Chain, 2,100 nautical miles (3900 km) southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Norden bombsight used on US bombers during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War

The Norden Mk. XV, known as the Norden M series in US Army service, was a bombsight used by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) and the United States Navy during World War II, and the United States Air Force in the Korean and the Vietnam Wars. It was the canonical tachometric design, a system that allowed it to directly measure the aircraft's ground speed and direction, which older bombsights could only estimate with lengthy in-flight procedures. The Norden further improved on older designs by using an analog computer that constantly calculated the bomb's impact point based on current flight conditions, and an autopilot that let it react quickly and accurately to changes in the wind or other effects.

Philco was a pioneer in battery, radio, and television production. In North America, it is the Philco brand owned by Philips. In other markets, it is the Philco International brand owned by Electrolux.

Louie's camp, Ōmori, in Tokyo, is headed by Japanese corporal Mutsuhiro Watanabe who is especially tough on Louie, beating him often. Louie is given an opportunity to broadcast a message home saying he is alive after learning the US government classified him as KIA. When refusing to broadcast another message laden with anti-American propaganda, he is sent back to camp where Watanabe has each prisoner punch him.

Tokyo Capital of Japan

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2018, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.

Mutsuhiro Watanabe Japanese war criminal

Mutsuhiro Watanabe – nicknamed "the Bird" by his prisoners – was an Imperial Japanese Army corporal in World War II who served at POW camps in Omori, Naoetsu, Niigata, Mitsushima and at the Civilian POW Camp at Yamakita. After Japan's defeat, the US Occupation authorities classified Watanabe as a war criminal for his mistreatment of prisoners of war (POWs), but he managed to evade arrest and was never tried in court. Watanabe ordered one man to report to him to be punched in the face every night for two weeks, and practiced judo on an appendectomy patient. One of his prisoners was American track star and Olympian Louis Zamperini, who tells his story in the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, later adapted into a feature film directed by Angelina Jolie and also Devil at My Heels by Ali Sen.

Federal government of the United States National government of the United States

The Federal Government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.

After two years, Watanabe is promoted and leaves the camp. The camp is damaged when Tokyo is bombed, so Louie and the others are forced to move to Naoetsu prison camp, where Louie discovers that Watanabe is in command and the prisoners are put to work loading coal barges. Louie pauses during work, so Watanabe makes him lift a large beam, ordering a guard to shoot Louie if he drops it. Louie successfully lifts and holds it up, despite exhaustion. This enrages Watanabe as Louie stares him straight in the eye, provoking him to beat Louie severely.

At the end of the war, Louie and the other prisoners in the camp are liberated when the Americans occupy Japan. Louie tried to find Watanabe in his quarters but realizes he had fled. Louie sits down and stares at a picture of Watanabe as a child standing with his father. He is returned home to America, Louie kisses the ground just as he arrives home to his family.

At the end of the film, there is a slideshow that shows what happened after the war. The real Louis married and had two children. Phil too survived, also marrying. Mutsuhiro "The Bird" Watanabe went into hiding and evaded prosecution despite being in the top 40 most-wanted Japanese war criminals list by General Douglas MacArthur. Louie lived out his promise to convert to Christianity, devote his life to God and forgive his war-time captors, meeting with many of them. Watanabe, however, 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. The stretch he ran was not far from one of the POW camps where he was held. The closing titles reveal Louie 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 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] Other scenes were shot 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

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 among 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

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

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 50% based on 220 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. 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
AwardDate of ceremonyCategoryRecipientsResultReferences
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 LeeNominated
American Film Institute December 8, 2014 Top Ten Films of the YearWon [36]
Art Directors Guild Awards January 31, 2015 Excellence in Production Design for a Period Film Jon HutmanNominated [37]
ASC Award February 15, 2015Theatrical Motion Picture Roger Deakins Nominated [38]
Cinema Audio Society Awards February 14, 2015Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture – Live Action David Lee, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Jonathan Allen, Paul Drenning, John GuentnerNominated [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'ConnellNominated [41] [ not in citation given ]
Hollywood Film Awards November 14, 2014 New Hollywood Award Jack O'Connell Won [42]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards January 12, 2015 Best CinematographyRoger DeakinsNominated [43]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild AwardsFebruary 14, 2015Best Period and/or Character Make-Up in Feature Length Motion PictureToni G. and Nik DorningNominated [44]
MPSE Golden Reel Awards February 15, 2015Feature English Language - Dialogue/ADR Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro, Laura Atkinson, Glynna Grimala, Lauren HadawayWon [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" WarkentinNominated
National Board of Review December 2, 2014 Top 10 FilmsWon [46]
Breakthrough Performance Jack O'Connell (also for Starred Up )Won
Saturn Awards June 25, 2015 Best Action or Adventure Film UnbrokenWon [47]
Best Editing William Goldenberg, Tim SquyresNominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 25, 2015 Outstanding Action Performance By Stunt Ensemble Motion PictureUnbrokenWon[ citation needed ]
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association December 15, 2014 Best Screenplay: Adapted Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson Nominated [48] [ not in citation given ]
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 CoxNominated [49]

Home media

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, none of the original cast or crew was involved in the new film. [51]

See also

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