Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’ Draws Gasps at Premiere in Australia

Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' Draws Gasps Premiere
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Promising “a night of inspiration,” dedicated “in loving memory” to pic’s subject Louis Zamperini, director-producer Angelina Jolie presented the world premiere of her second film as director, Universal’s “Unbroken,” to a packed State Theatre in downtown Sydney, Australia, Monday evening local time.

Reaction to the often-intense film was largely positive, with the black-tie audience gasping audibly at one particularly shocking maritime moment and the unrelenting visceral wartime brutality that punctuates Zamperini’s tale of survival.

Warm applause at the end of the film drowned out the opening bars of the Coldplay tune penned just for the closing credits.

Additional inspiration was provided by the presence and exposure provided to various charities, local war heroes and those who have overcome adversity.

Based on the international bestseller by Laura Hillenbrand (“Seabiscuit”), the 137-minute film is among the last high-profile Academy Award-eligible films to open Stateside (it’s slated for Dec. 25 in the U.S., but doesn’t bow in Oz until Jan. 15).

“Unbroken” tells the harrowing but ultimately inspirational story of Zamperini, who parlayed a delinquent childhood in Torrance, California, to an appearance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a distance runner. During World War II, when his bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, it signaled the beginning of a grueling ordeal at sea followed by years of crushing abuse in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps that he survived through sheer force of will.

Anticipation was high well before the curtain, as first Jolie and then husband Brad Pitt unhurriedly worked both sides of the Market Street red carpets set up for the event, furnishing selfies, autographs and handshakes to the thousands of fans and unwitting rush-hour crowds agog at the power couple’s presence in the middle of one of the congested city’s busiest thoroughfares.

Shot entirely in the Oz states of New South Wales and Queensland, the picture was funded to the tune of around US$20 million by Australian federal and state governments. Joel and Ethan Coen share screenplay credits with William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese, and the film was photographed by long-time Coen brothers cinematographer Roger Deakins.

“Was there ever any doubt you’d premiere the film in Sydney?” one of the evening’s hosts asked Jolie in an interview piped from the street into the theater. “No, we were always coming here,” she replied to cheers. Jolie and Pitt spearheaded a local charm offensive when they holidayed with their six children on Queensland’s Gold Coast during the shoot last Christmas.

Later, during the mercifully brief intro (devoid of local politicians) that followed a brief making-of featurette, Jolie was joined on stage by producer Matthew Baer and actors Jack O’Connell and Miyavi Ishihara, who play Zamperini and his Japanese war camp commandant nemesis, nicknamed “the Bird,” respectively. “We’re very grateful,” she said, as the audience munched on salad, potato chips and quiche furnished in logo-stickered cardboard picnic boxes and washed down with champagne.

“Unbroken” begins a slow international rollout after its Christmas U.S. release.

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  1. Jason says:

    The story and movie were racially motivated and made up? What kind of alternative planet and universe do you live on? The are hundreds if not thousands of well documented accounts of atrocities committed by the Japanese military against POW’s, Koreans, Chinese, and other countries that were invaded during Japan’s imperialistic conquests leading up to and during WWII.

    This is not a condemnation of modern Japan, the Japanese, and most of the Japanese citizenry that had nothing to do with their leadership and military leaders actions during WWII. However, to deny history and write off all of these accounts as racism and fiction is incredibly naive, insulting, and dangerous.

    I lived on Japan for two years and love Japanese culture and it’s people. I minored in Japanese in college, have worked for two Japanese companies, and have had many Japanese friends over the years so my comments are by no means coming from a misinformed or racist point of view.

    I am American and we are all aware of the xenophobic mistakes made by the US government in on interring Japanese Americans during the war. Rather than lying and trying to bury it, however, it is in our history books and is discussed openly in hopes the same mistakes are never made again.

    To deny or try to bury history rather then learning from mistakes of the past so they hopefully not repeated is important. If Japan doesn’t want it’s people to understand what occurred during the war, I guess that is their choice. However, it is a sad and a dangerous position to take.

  2. Miyabi has never been popular in Japan says:

    Miyabi is not a Japanese, he was born in Japan but raised as a Korean by receiving Anti-Japanese education in a Korean school of Japan. During the interview, he couldn’t answer how Japanese people were taught about wartime Japanese history at school, because he had never experienced it.
    We had had enough of anti-Japanese campaign by racists. This story and movie are made-up, cover-up, just creating hatred, no use.

  3. Sam says:

    This woman takes an inordinate amount of bad press and some vicious, and biting commentary generally, some possibly deserved, some not.
    However, the usually envious and ill informed glitterati exposes its ugly spirit when it cannot afford a simple positive comment for it’s ‘inamici’. Even when it is deserved.
    What a sorry group!!!!

  4. I really don’t find that woman appealing on any level. It gets really tiresome seeing her everywhere and it’s as though she’s ascended into the realm of American royalty…

  5. Lang says:

    Shawn, why would you want to see a movie that is a true story that was not True. To leave out a very important aspect of this hero’s life is an affront to the same person you are trying to honor…Leaving out this event that changed the trajectory of his life would be like making a movie about Micheal Jordan and failing to mention he was a basketball player….

  6. Just from seeing the trailer, I realized that this is going to be a BLOCKBUSTER!!! This could win a BEST PICTURE OSCAR!!! We needed a movie like this for a LONG TIME !!! Congrats Jolie!!!

  7. JT says:

    After seeing a brief online preview of this movie I rushed out and bought the book. In six days I read this remarkable story TWICE. I cannot wait to see the movie and just hope it is at least 1/2 as good as the book. Thank you Laura Hillenbrand for sharing this story with the world and thank you Ms. Jolie for making it into a movie. Dec 25th cannot come quick enough.

  8. The book is AMAZING, I hope she does this story the justice it deserves. I am looking forward to seeing it!

  9. John Snyder says:

    Thank you Ms. Jolie. I can’t wait to see this movie. I have not been to a movie for a few years now. I will see this one. Whether or not the motion picture industry gives you an award, the people will. Besides box office always trumps shallow Hollywood types.

  10. Link Baldwin says:

    Zamperini himself was very vocal about how his faith allowed him to forgive these men and heal his soul. It is not for you to “re-write” his biography to fit your own world view.

  11. Mark says:

    So, this movie was funded by the tax payers…

    Corporate welfare at it’s best…

    • JT says:

      That was a major part of the book. The book shared how Zamperini struggled with his war time demons upon returning to the states and it was not until attending a Billy Graham crusade, giving his life to the Lord that he was able to break free from his ordeal. I hope the movie shares this vital piece of information.

  12. Lisa says:

    What I don’t understand is, although the best-selling books are written by women, the screen adapters are always men. lol. It’s like the women have ‘proven’ themselves with a bestselling book, so only then is it okay for the men to proceed in order to make a profit.

  13. TheBigBangOf20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    This looks like a valiant effort to tell the tale of a rare war survivor. But it remains to be seen whether it will earn industry buss by not conforming to ethnic minority marginalization or stereotypes. The mere idea that Hollywood would not even fund this film is a hint that it may also snub it come awards time.

  14. Disappointed says:

    An American hero patriot picture shot with Aussie Tax money.
    Red carpet in Australia.
    Some patriot
    Jolie.

    • Ran Kelvin says:

      Normally I would tend to agree with you but not on this. Aussies and Kiwis were there every bit of WWII in the Pacific. It was a terrible time for anyone that fought it. My father carried the wounds of the war to his passing and I know that he spoke highly of the Aussies and had many friends from Australia. He did however, never forgive the Japanese. And neither did one of my uncles whose duty included combat in the Pacific but also in handling the Ally remains. It was plainly obvious that all Allies captured by the Japanese were in one way or another tortured and a great many murdered. That included a number of Aussies.

    • Tracy says:

      WOW. WHY SHOULD IT MATTER WHERE THE MONEY CAME FROM.?
      MONEY IS TIGHT EVERYWHERE FOR MOVIES THESE DAYS.
      AND HOW COOL IS IT THAT THE AUSSIES GOT BEHIND AN AMERICAN HERO STORY?
      ANGELINA WAS SO PASSIONATE ABOUT MAKING THIS FILM AND TELLING THIS AMERICAN MAN’S STORY – NOW THE WHOLE WORLD GETS TO SEE IT!
      WHAT DIFFERENCE WOULD IT MAKE WHERE THE RED CARPET WAS? – AND BELIEVE ME THERE WILL BE MORE RED CARPETS IN THE US.
      I FOR ONE – CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT! (AND I COME FROM A LONG LINE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY)
      BRAVO ANGIE! BRAVO!

      • ConnIe says:

        I can not believe the negative comments here. Not because they are negative but the fact that they are poorly written and not factual by any means. THIS IS A TRUE STORY. By true it means it has happened so why change it and lie.
        You will find no shame in admitting the past but to deny it makes YOU
        a liar. Stop throwing the word RACIST around when ever you disagree with something it has cheapened the word. Admit the
        Past and you won’t repeat it, I hope.
        As for Ms. Jolie, leave her alone. She is a joy to many and a star.

  15. ezekiel says:

    thx angie for
    not casting brad in it
    he lost his moxie.

  16. Randy says:

    Laura Hilenbrand is an incredible writer; If she wrote “The Life of a Rock” I would go see the movie.

  17. Wow, I am absolutely disgusted that Australian tax payers forked out $20 million to fund a project by Branjelina. There are so many talented Australians that could have benefited from that funding. I hope the Au taxpayers get their investment back with interest otherwise I call Theft.

    • . says:

      Exactly.

      It’s vile, the actors, politicians and bankers are all in bed together using public money.

      Look at AVATAR, a very profitable film that demanded NZ give massive tax incentives to be made there etc… etc……

      The film industry has become mad.

      VFX has become subsidized slave labour too.

      • Nick Holden says:

        If the government gives $20 million to fund production of the movie, but saves $5 million in social welfare benefits, and collects $25 million in other taxes and fees, how did the tax payer lose out? Without the big tax breaks and sometimes additional investment, many films would not be made. Yes, it stinks that the tax rates are so high that companies are forced to take their business to those places with lower taxes or who are willing to grant the tax breaks and/or other incentives to get the business, but that is the world in which we live. Businesses are in business to make money, not lose it. When governments make it too hard to make a profit, companies find somewhere else to work, or they close up shop entirely. I would be willing to bet that all of the local businesses and workers who worked on or supported the film would think that the money was well spent.

  18. Annette May says:

    Love Brad and Angie! I can’t stand it when people criticize their humanitarian efforts and say that it’s for publicity. If that were true, then why are spending their own money to make things happen and why would they bother to start a big family?

    • Chris says:

      Well said Nick. It’s always the people who don’t even have a basic grasp of economics and business that spout off about politicians and bankers in bed together. All they want is a huge government to take from the wealthy and hard-working and give to the lazy and uneducated.

    • Annette May says:

      I haven’t read the book, but I’m just expressing my respect for those two kids.

  19. For Matt Smith, “ditto”.

  20. For Shawn, although I never completed reading, (I intend to once my eyes clear up) but I can say I feel the ‘Christian aspect’ should have been included and ‘yes’ I think (maybe) if it had been Hindu or Buddhist, or another theology road, containment would be there. Absolutely, without any reservation I feel it should be in the book. Why be so argumentative? Oh, I got it. Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  21. Did she leave in Louie’s conversion to Christianity? Without it, the movie is pointless.

  22. Lisa Williams says:

    You have an error. The movie was based on the book of the same name. Seabiscuit was hillenbrand’s first book.

    • James Dabney says:

      It’s a shame Angelina left out his Christian conversion as that is what changed his life. If it had been a
      Buddhist, Hindu etc. conversion that would have been included. Political correctness runs amok.

      • gephart2 says:

        Agree with you completely!

      • Matt Smith says:

        The most interesting thing about the story was his ability to forgive “the Bird” for the things he and his crew did to him while he was imprisoned at the camp. This is not the same thing that “every other person who went through similar ordeals but weren’t Christian,” went through. The story is good because not only did he live through a horrible experience similar to everyone else, but that he was able to forgive and then love those people who treated him so horribly.

        The source of his personal change from angry PTSD alcoholic did not come from atheism or other religion, either, and that is why it matters to the story.

        I’m sure it will be a great movie and have a lot of good torture scenes. It will be missing the most compelling part of Zamperini’s story, though, if it leaves out his Christianity.

      • Shawn says:

        Good. I could care less about any type of conversion to a particular religion. In fact it makes me not want to see/read a story about a person/subject no matter what the religion is. Do you need that on screen to validate your own beliefs? How about every other person who went through similar ordeals but weren’t Christian? How were they able to survive such tribulations by being Jewish or maybe an atheist? Heck, how did any Jew survive the horrors of the death camps? The story is about not breaking under the most cruel of circumstances. If you think the only way he was able to do this is because of one specific religion then you don’t understand the will of man.

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