Angelina Jolie fought for chance to direct WWII POW film adaptation

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk
Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie

No stranger to directing films about the terrors of war, Angelina Jolie says she fought for the opportunity to direct World War II story "Unbroken" -- based on a book of the same name.

"I read Laura Hillenbrand’s brilliant book, and I was so moved by Louie Zamperini’s heroic story, I immediately began to fight for the opportunity to make this film," Jolie said in a written announcement for the film. And Jolie is reported to have campaigned passionately against other directors for the film, according to Deadline.

Hillenbrand has also written "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" -- on which the 2003, seven-time Oscar nominated film was based. Her 2010 non-fiction "Unbroken" spent more than a dozen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

"Unbroken" follows the survival story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini -- who became a prisoner of war in WWII after living through a plane crash and floating on a raft for 47 days, only to be captured by the Japanese military.  "Louie is a true hero and a man of immense humanity, faith and courage.  I am deeply honored to have the chance to tell his inspiring story," Jolie added.

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The 37-year-old made her feature film directorial debut last year, helming Bosnian war story "In the Land of Blood and Honey." The film shed light on the atrocities of the '90s-era war but was received relatively coolly by critics. Many reviews noted the film's ambition, the importance of its subject matter and also indicated Jolie's potential as a director.

It's worth noting that "Unbroken" marks Jolie's first time directing for a major studio -- Universal Pictures. As part of the film's announcement, the studio's chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley issued a joint statement: "In her life and in her work, Angelina has embraced stories and causes involving great struggle and triumph over tremendous odds and the basic human condition... She has a real ability to illustrate the strength in human spirit which will be essential in telling Lou’s story of survival and great heroism."

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A release date for the film appears to have not yet been set. Screenwriter William Nicholson drafted the latest version of the script. He has also written "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (2007), "Gladiator" (2000) and  "Les Misérables" -- in theaters now.