Universal Pictures’ Unbroken – Angelina Jolie’s sophomore directorial effort – doesn’t open in theaters until Christmas Day this year, but with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics fully underway, now’s as good a time as any for the film’s marketing to begin – seeing how Jolie’s movie tells the true story of former Olympic runner Louis Zamperini.
An extended version of an Unbroken TV spot (aired during the ongoing Olympic games) has been released online; it’s a combination trailer and featurette that quickly sketches Zamperini’s incredible journey – from trouble-making kid to an Olympic athlete and soldier in WWII captured by Japanese forces – through relevant footage from Jolie’s film adaptation, as well as interviews with the real-life Zamperini (who is now 97 years old). Skins alum Jack O’Connell (who costars in 300: Rise of an Empire next month) is headlining Unbroken as the young Zamperini.
Jolie’s feature directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey earned a lukewarm critical reception – with Jolie the director being commended for showing real promise – but the movie was largely ignored at the box office. However, Unbroken seems certain to get more attention solely based on the film’s spiritually-uplifting authentic subject matter (previously dramatized in book form by Laura Hillenbrand). Meanwhile, Jolie teamed with cinematographer Roger Deakins (Prisoners), so as to ensure that her new historical drama would look quite impressive – which it very much does, going by the first footage.
Bloody and Honey‘s real-world backdrop (the Bosnian war of the 1990s) was criticized for being painted in broad strokes by Jolie’s script, whereas the screenplay for Unbroken was written by a team that includes Oscar-winners Joel and Ethan Cohen (Inside Llewyn Davis), as well as Oscar-nominees Richard LaGravenese (Behind the Candelabra) and William Nicholson (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). Suffice it to say, Zamperini’s tale is in the hands of capable storytellers all around.
Rounding out the cast of Unbroken are Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy), Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), Alex Russell (Carrie) and Luke Treadaway (Attack the Block).
Unbroken opens in U.S. theaters on December 25th, 2014.