Movie Talk

Angelina Jolie fought for chance to direct WWII POW film adaptation

Movie Talk

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Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie (Photo: Getty Images)

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.

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