In keeping with the current sense of nationalistic spirit Team U.S.A. has been tapping within many by way of Sochi, a first-look preview of Angelina Jolie's latest directorial effort has been given an Olympic release and efforts to tug at those very same red, white, and blue heartstrings.
"Unbroken" presents the riveting true story of Louis "Louie" Zamperini (played by Jack O'Connell), an Olympic distance runner-turned-World War II airman who survived a deadly plane crash and 47 days lost at sea, only to become captured by the Japanese Navy and forced to live as a prisoner-of-war.
This first-glimpse at Jolie's "Unbroken," which she recently completed filming in Australia, was revealed by Universal Pictures during the XXII Olympic Winter Games on Sunday and features introductory comments from none other than the now-97-year-old hero himself.
"As a kid, I always had trouble. I was rotten," he joked of his youth. "They started talking about what to do with me. The police chief said, 'We've been chasing him all over town for years, I should just run him.'"
Zamperini's brother helped him get involved with his high school track team, and his talent at the sport would later lead him to compete at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
"You learn perseverance at running," Zamperini said of his career in the sport. "Right in the middle of almost giving up, you try again and again 'til you overcome."
Indeed, as Zamperini himself explained — and Jolie's adaptation no doubt intends to explore — those same values were the apparent source of Zamperini's will to ultimately survive the conditions of his Japanese P.O.W. camp and live on to become an inspirational Christian speaker. He would even return to meet and forgive those who tortured him during his internment during a guest appearance at the Winter Olympics of 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
"That was important in the war, too," he explains in the teaser. "The determination to come out first, to come out alive."
Joining Jack O'Connell among the film's castmates are Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock, starring as Zamperini's fellow WWII bomber survivors, and Garrett Hedlund and John Magaro, who appear as other prisoners of the brutal camp.
Ethan and Joel Coen rewrote the adaptive script for "Unbroken" — based upon the Linda Hillenbrand 2010 bestseller "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" — from earlier drafts by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravanese.
It was Hillenbrand's book which revived a long-dormant interest in bringing Zamperini's harrowing story to the big screen, after a 1960s matching of Tony Curtis and the role fizzled out.
In a statement during production efforts on "Unbroken," Jolie spoke to the onerousness of her task in transforming the legend for cinema. "It will be hard to make a film worthy of this great man," she admitted. "I am deeply honored to have the chance and will do all I can to bring Louie’s inspiring story to life. … Like all readers of Laura’s book and all people who love and admire Louie, I am a fan who has learned so much. He has made me a better person."
"Unbroken" is Jolie's second directing effort, following her 2011 Bosnian War epic, "In the Land of Blood and Honey." The film will hit theaters on Christmas Day.