Nearly ten years ago, the uplifting war movie Unbroken was an unexpected success at the box office. With a gross of $115.6 million in North America alone, the movie was also widely predicted to be an award-season favorite. However, those predictions failed to come true around Oscar time, even though AFI did list Unbroken as one of the top 10 movies of 2014.
Thanks to Netflix, Unbroken is finding a new audience and it currently stands at No. 7 on Netflix’s top 10 most popular movies list. And now, we’ll share three reasons why you should watch Unbroken and experience this film for yourself.
Unbroken is based on the real-life adventures of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, who is portrayed by Jack O’Connell in the film. To call Zamperini’s story “incredible” really undersells it. This is a man who overcame hardships and prejudice as a boy before transforming himself into an Olympic athlete on his way to a very memorable performance at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Just a few years later, Zamperini found himself serving in the United States Air Force during World War II. And that’s where things became even more unbelievable.
Zamperini and two of his fellow airmen survived a crash in the ocean and managed to stay alive for 47 days at sea with minimal food and water. From there, Zamperini was pushed to his absolute limits. It’s almost impossible not to be inspired by the sheer magnitude of everything he went through.
Laura Hillenbrand wrote the best-selling book that inspired the movie, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Hillenbrand’s account of Zamperini’s life convinced Angelina Jolie (Marvel’s Eternals) to step behind the camera for only her second feature film as a director. And the script was written by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.
Via The Hollywood Reporter, Jolie was so moved by Zamperini’s experiences that she befriended him in his last years and kept him involved in the movie even as his health declined. Zamperini passed away in July 2014, only a few months before Unbroken was released in theaters. And because Jolie had gotten so close to Zamperini, she found it difficult to finish editing the film.
“As a person, I couldn’t function,” said Jolie. “I went into my editing room. I turned the lights off. I went under my jacket, and I just couldn’t cut a frame of the film. Suddenly it was sacrilege to cut anything … Editing was like spending time with Louis, so I didn’t want to let it go.”
Jolie’s connection with Zamperini shines through in the movie, and it’s one of the reasons that it is so engaging.
After everything else Zamperini went through, including his ordeal at sea, he faced his greatest challenge when he and Lt. Russell “Phil” Phillips (Domhnall Gleeson) were found and captured by the Japanese military. Their lives were saved, but Zamperini was forced to endure torture and mistreatment as a prisoner of war. One guard, Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe (Miyavi), brutalized Zamperini and the other prisoners so mercilessly that he was declared one of the most wanted war criminals in the aftermath of WWII.
This is the part of the film where you will learn why Zamperini’s story is called Unbroken. Watanabe did everything that he could to crush Zamperini physically and mentally. But he could never break him.
Unbroken is now streaming on Netflix.
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