angelina jolie directing Angelina Jolie To Direct Unbroken For Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures and Walden Media have announced that Academy Award-winning actress, director and producer Angelina Jolie is in talks to direct ‘Unbroken’ for Universal. The film, which is being co-financed and co-produced by Universal and Walden Media, will be based on the New York Times bestselling non-fiction book ‘Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption’ by Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit: An American Legend). ‘Unbroken’ would marks Jolie’s second turn behind the camera, following her critically acclaimed directorial debut in 2011’s ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey,’ and her first time directing a major studio film.

Originally published by Random House in 2010, the book follows the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner of war camp. The book has sat atop the New York Times bestseller list for more than 108 consecutive weeks, fourteen of those at number one. It was also the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award for Non-fiction.

“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,” said Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley. “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.”

Added Walden Media Chief Executive Officer, Michael Bostick, “We’re thrilled that Angelina will bring this epic story to the big screen. Lou’s is one of history’s most incredible and inspiring stories, and we are excited to partner with such a passionate filmmaker to share it with audiences all over the world.”

“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,” said Angelina Jolie. “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.”

Frequent Universal Pictures collaborator William Nicholson (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Gladiator, Les Misérables) wrote the latest draft of the screenplay and an earlier draft was written by Richard LaGravenese. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff will produce with Mick Garris serving as executive producer. Chief Executive Officer, Michael Bostick and Senior Vice President of Production Amanda Morgan-Palmer, will oversee the project on behalf of Walden Media. Universal Pictures Co-President of Production, Peter Cramer and Vice President of Production, Kristin Lowe will oversee the project on behalf of Universal.

The synopsis for ‘Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption’ is as follows: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.