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Trivia / Goofs
Summary / Analysis
Times of India
This is the true story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini who was a bombardier in a USAAF B24 in WW II. When his bomber crashed in the Pacific Ocean during a rescue op, he and two crewmembers weathered 47 days in a life raft. Zamperini also survived two Japanese POW camps till the end of the war.
Divided into three distinct phases, Unbroken begins with Louis Zamperini's (O'Connell) upbringing and early years, along with his participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The second, during the thick of WW II and the manner in which he and two crewmembers spent those arduous days in the shark-infested Pacific after the crash. And lastly, the superhuman force of will that helps him to survive the brutality of the sadistic Japanese labour camp commander Mutsuhiro 'The Bird' Watanabe (Ishihara).
We see in flashback mode how Zamperini searches for a sense of identity. Directionless, he spends his days smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor concealed in milk bottles. Local bullies call him a 'wop' and a 'dago'. But his elder brother Pete (Russell) sees that what Louis can do, is run. 'If you can take it, you can make it", Pete tells Louis.
Louis and his friends face almost every kind of hardship - from the elements to starvation to beatings to backbreaking physical labour and sometimes, all of it at the same time. The values his brother taught him prove crucial to how he emerges battered and frayed, but unbroken.
In this moving tale of trial and ultimate redemption, Jolie dutifully paints a harrowing picture of how Zamperini stoically bears it all. But the redemption aspect of the tale is just breezed through. If only we could see how Zamperini pieced together his life after the war. That aside, apart from an engaging screenplay (Coen Brothers), cinematographer Roger Deakins's frames are vivid and powerful and Alexandre Desplat's score augments at optimal moments but thankfully, never overwhelms. O'Connell and Ishihara bring a stunning sense of realism to their roles, which is a great reason why you'll want to watch this movie.
The film's rights had been bought in the year 1957 by Universal Studios.
The film was first intended to be developed for Tony Curtis and later even Nicolas Cage had expressed an interest in the story.
The story however got a headstart after a book about Louis Zamperini written by Laura Hillenbrand became a bestseller.
Dane DeHaan was one of the finalists to play Louis Zamperini, however in the end, Jack O'Connell was cast.
Takamasa Ishihara found performing the scene in which Zamperini is forced to hold a beam over his head at gunpoint so upsetting and intense that he vomited on set.
Louis Zamperini's grandson, Clay Zamperini makes a cameo as an Olympic Torch bearer.
Louis Zamperini passed away on July 2, 2014. He was able to watch a rough cut of the film on director Angelina Jolie's laptop while in the hospital before he passed.
Channing Tatum's frequent stunt double Mark Foran, can be seen in many of the battle scenes.
Actor Takamasa Ishihara had to keep his distance from Jack O'Connel on the sets in order to perform the acts of brutality towards him that were required for his role.
Miyahvi who plays The Bird is actually a popular japanese PPP star.
Louis, Phil, and Mac, although maintaining well trimmed beards when they went down, remained absolutely clean shaven their entire time at sea.
The POWs for the most part look grungy, but seem to have carefully trimmed and combed hair.
The shadows of the aircraft are going much slower than the aircraft that are flying overhead.
When the prisoners are standing in the river, a number of American bombers are shown flying overhead. The shadows on the ground are shown to be of various wingspans for the same type aircraft, as if to signify aircraft casting shadows from various heights. Since the light source for the shadows, the sun, is some 93 million miles away, the difference of a few, or even tens, of thousands of feet, has no discernible effect on the width of the shadow that is cast.
At the train station scene when Peter is seeing Louis off, a 50-star US flag is hanging from the depot building. The stars are not arranged in the simple 8-row, 6-column configuration of the 48-star flag of 1912; rather, they have the offset arrangement of the 1959 50-star flag.
The film opens with a flashback, of Louis in his B24, before cutting back to his childhood in America. He is a carefree, if somewhat directionless boy who doesn't really believe that he can become anything great. He smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol despite his young age and spends his time daydreaming. Not quite the popular one, he also has the local bullies harass him. A cop breaks up a fight one day and hauls him back home to his mother, who of course, admonishes him for drinking and getting into trouble. Later, his father spanks him and asks Louis why he invited negative attention to his immigrant family in this way.
Later on, Louis is caught drinking at an athletic event and sprints across the grounds with such speed that his elder brother Pete who is at the event is both astonished and also impressed with the young lad's speed. He then trains Louis and motivates him to change his life for the better instead of ending up as a drunk, homeless person, as his current trajectory would no doubt lead. Louis takes this to heart and in time, becomes a champion athlete. He represents the USA on the track during the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Although he takes in eight place, he sets a new record for finishing the 5,000m race.His family is of course, delighted as they hear the news by radio back in America.
We then cut to the present, where Luis's place, damaged during a mission safely lands, because of the pilot's expertise. As some crewmen have died,they are later sent on a search and rescue mission withh replacement crewmen, with a B24 that is barely airworthy because it has already been scavenged for spare parts. Louis has his doubts that the plane is even airworthy but they have no choice as there isn't any other plane to use.
While into the mission over the expanse of the SPuth Pacific, both the Liberator's left engines fail. and they crash land in the ocean. Only Louis, Mac and Phil survive and live on two floating safety rafts, sustaining themselves with the meager emergency provisions in the raft. After a few days, a search plane flies over them but does not see them and they are unable to get its attention. They battle hunger and thirst. They kill a bird and attempt to eat it raw, but are nauseated are soon nauseated.Soon though, they learn how to fish and festoon raw fish. One day, they are strafed by a four-engined bomber that they think is one of theirs, but turns out to be a nip dive bomber. They learn how to catch small sharks and extract the nutritious liver, which they eat raw. During a terrible storm, Louis prays to God and vows that if he survives all of this, he will dedicate his life to God when he returns back to America.
On the 46th day Mac dies, leaving only Louie and Phil. Then finally on the 47th day, their raft is spotted by a Japanese destroyer. Louie and Phil become prisoners of war.
Their internment is brutal from the get-go. The nips ask Louis and Phil about the Norden bombsight and about various other kinds of technology that the USA uses. Louis and Phil give them erroneous information. From the jungle, the two POWs are then bundled off to a Japanese slave labour camp in mainland Japan. Louis and Phil are separated.
While at the camp, the inmates are introduced to Mutsuhiro "Bird" Watanabe, the camp commander. It is soon apparent that along with his sadistic streak and appetite for torture, he also is attracted to the sheer masculinity of the toughness and resilience that Louis displays. In addition to being a complex character who is frustrated by a lack of promotions, The Bird seems like a closet homosexual. Bird is also jealous of Louis's status as a former Olympian.
He thus beats upLouis often. Later,the Japanese propaganda machine gets to know that Louis is a star and has him broadcast a message over the radio telling his family that he is okay. Louis is given bacon, eggs, mash potatoes and steak aong with beer and is treated to a good life. But when he refuses to broadcast a second message that would be anti-American he is sent back to camp where Watanabe has all the other prisoners punch him for showing 'disrespect' to the Japanese cause. Later, Watanabe (the Bird) finally gets a promotion and is taken out of the camp where Louis is in gaol. However, after that camp is damaged in a USAAF air raid, the inmates are taken by railroad to another camp where, Zamperini discovers, to his shock, that the Bird is in charge here as well. The works backbreaking to say the least. The prisoners are now put to work loading coal barges. One day Louis sprains his ankle after taking a beating and is unable to work and Bird tells him to lift a giant piece of wood that looks like a railway sleeper.
Louis is exhausted and emaciated but he manages to lift the wood. Watanabe tells Louis that if he drops it, he will be shot. However, by challenging odds and defying expectations, he manages to keep the wood aloft and defiantly so. This angers Watanabe, who beats up Louis harshly, but it is at that time that Watanabe realizes that short of being killed, Louis can take pretty much anything that is dished out to him. Soon after, the war ends and we see American bombers flying over the Japanese homeland at will. The prisoners are freed and Louis spends the remainder of his life as an outspoken Christian, preferring the gift of forgiveness over that of revenge. He also takes part in the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. Many years after the war, Watanabe still refused to meet him. Louis.Zamperini died on July 2, 2014 at age 97.
Unbroken fires all cylinders onto the audience to mount a sense of discomfort. The shocking truth and amazing direction leaves me amazed that 2015 has already delivered the goods. Unbroken stands above many in it's genre and provides viewers with a deep hearten story that is sure to give you shivers down your spin. To top it off the excellent cast forms a overall movie of the year materiel and ensures us war never changes! Unbroken is your go to block buster of 2015