Monday, December 1, 2014

UNBROKEN COULD BE A HARD SELL FOR ANGELINA JOLIE

Jack O'Connell as Olympian Lou Zamperini
   Critics and reviewers who have seen Angelina Jolie's grim and gruelling Unbreakable are predicting that Universal, who put up $65 million for the production and are spending at least the same again on marketing it, will have trouble finding cinemas to screen it in Japan, the third largest film market in the world.

   Scenes set in a Japanese prison camp depicting the guards as ruthless torturers are expected to turn off Japanese audiences.

   But having seen the movie myself, I believe Universal could have trouble finding audiences for it anywhere, not because of its torture scenes but because it will likely only appeal to a small segment of cinemagoers. 

   The true story of Olympic runner turned war hero Lou Zamperini, who survived the crash of his bomber in the Pacific, spent 47 days adrift on a raft and then endured two-and-a-half years in Japanese prison-of-war camps, is admittedly a story of survival but it is also unremittingly harrowing in its depiction of Zamperini's suffering. At 2 hours, 15 minutes, it is also overlong.

  Beautifully photographed and well-acted though it is, the script needs a good rewrite, riddled as it is with such corny old words of wisdom such as "If you can take it, you can make it" and "A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory."

  There is no doubting Angelina Jolie's passion and commitment to the project, which was filmed almost entirely in Australia. 

   I could be wrong and it may turn out to be one of the hits of the year, and China, the world's second biggest film market after the U.S., where anti-Japanese films are welcomed and embraced, is certain to prove a lucrative market.

  "The Chinese government looks very favourably on anti-Japanese dramas," says USC professor Stan Rosen, an expert on Chinese film. 
 
        The film rights were first bought by Universal Studios in 1947 for Tony Curtis to star in but nothing ever happened until Angelina Jolie stumbled across the story. “I came home and said, ‘Honey, I think there’s a story called Unbroken I’d like to direct’ and Brad said,Honey, that’s been around forever,’” she recalled when I talked with her in a screening room at Universal studios.
 
  “I fought for months for it and then when I found out I was going to do it, but I didn’t know if we would get the money together and find the right actor, because I really wanted somebody who was just right for Louis and not just a celebrity that would green light it.”
   
  Angelina chose relatively unknown British actor Jack O’Connell for the gruelling role and filmed the story in Australia.
    
  When she finally received the go-ahead she told Brad to go up on the roof of their home and wave an American flag to indicate to Zamperini, who lived just a few houses up the hill, that they would be filming his story.
    
 Zamperini died on July 2 aged 97 but not before she was able to take her laptop to him in hospital and show him a rough draft of the movie. 
   
"It was a very heavy, very emotional journey for all of us working on the movie because we were moved by his story, we learned from his life and we had this opportunity to really get to know him and walk in his footsteps,” she said. 

“We would speak to him all the time and Jack O’Connell spent a lot of time with him and he was a mentor, a friend and a father in many ways to all of us. He was a great man, really, truly. They say you should never meet your heroes, but I met mine and he was extraordinary."
I could be wrong and it may turn out to be one of the hits of the year, and China, the world's second biggest film market after the U.S., where anti-Japanese films are welcomed and embraced, is certain to prove a lucrative market.

   "The Chinese government looks very favourably on anti-Japanese dramas," says USC professor Stan Rosen, an expert on Chinese film. 

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