A new trailer for the biopic “Unbroken,” starring Jack O’Connell as Louis Zamperini, promises the life story of the Olympic runner and war hero will be told with epic flair and no shortage of tear-jerking. Directed by Angelina Jolie and adapted from the bestselling book by “Seabiscuit” author Laura Hillenbrand, the film will be released on Christmas Day 2014.
“A rebel who became a champion. A champion who became a survivor,” the trailer proclaims as Zamperini is shown growing up from California track star to Olympian to WWII pilot.
19-year-old Zamperini was the youngest member of the U.S. track team at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. After the 1940 Olympics were cancelled due to World War II, Zamperini enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces.
He was believed killed in action after his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Instead, Zamperini and two crewmates survived 47 days on an inflatable raft and then two and a half years as a prisoner of war, suffering frequent beatings and torture at the hands of his Japanese captors. At the end of the war in 1945, Zamperini returned to America a hero and worked as a motivational speaker.
The trailer briefly shows Zamperini wearing a jaunty Team USA hat during, presumably, the Opening Ceremony, and competing in the 5000m race in the Berlin Olympic stadium. Zamperini finished eighth but his performance was so impressive that Adolf Hitler requested a one-on-one meeting.
Zamperini passed away at the age of 97 on July 3rd. Jolie, who became close friends with Zamperini, said in a statement, “It is a loss impossible to describe. We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly.”