Angelina Jolie, actor who plays Louis Zamperini discuss ‘Unbroken’ Olympic scenes

Louis Zamperini
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Angelina Jolie relied on archived coverage of the 1936 Olympics as well as Laura Hillenbrand‘s book and the “perfect recollection” of Louis Zamperini in producing scenes of Zamperini at the Berlin Olympics in “Unbroken.”

The film hits theaters on Christmas.

Zamperini placed eighth in the 5000m at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1943, as an Army bombardier, he survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean with two other men (one died after 33 days) after their military plane crashed, and then two years at a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Zamperini died in July at age 97.

“To the very end of his life, Louie had perfect recollection of events that had occurred 40, 50 or 60 years previously, and his way of sharing those stories made you lean in and want to hear more,” Jolie said in an email. “Hearing him talk about the sights and sounds of the [Olympic] stadium, the exquisite silence of waiting for the starter gun, the intensity of racing against the fastest runners in the world all helped draw imaginary storyboards of how this could play out on the screen.”

Jolie’s researchers also located archived coverage of the 1936 Olympics, including Leni Riefenstahl’s two-part documentary, “Olympia,” which lasted 226 minutes.

In Jolie’s film, Zamperini is shown with the U.S. delegation at the Opening Ceremony and later running his Olympic final. He blistered the final lap of the 12 1/2-lap race in 56 seconds, moving up four spots.

“While I wanted to get the historical setting right and place the audience inside the Olympic Stadium, what I really wanted to convey was how that race epitomized Louie’s entire approach to life,” Jolie said. “When he found himself in the back of the pack going into the final sprint, he didn’t give up. He never reconciled himself to the thought of surrender. He found reserves of energy and fight and rocketed forward with a last lap so impressive that Hitler himself requested to meet ‘the boy with the fast finish.'”

Jack O’Connell, the British actor who played Zamperini, said in a phone interview that they shot a scene with Hitler “beckoning him over.” That scene didn’t make the film’s final 137-minute cut. They originally had 3 1/2 hours of scenes.

Jolie was asked about the decision to cut the Hitler scene.

“We shot this kid from Torrance [Calif.] meeting the most formidable figure in the world because it seems like such a delicious anecdote,” Jolie said. “But when I reviewed early cuts of the film, I had to make some very hard choices of what to leave in and what to take out. Believe me, every edit came with some pain for me because I wanted to honor Louie’s story in all of its remarkable expansiveness, but it was just impossible to include it all in one film. While meeting Hitler might be colorful, it wasn’t really the defining element of the Games for Louie. That ‘fast finish’ was.”

The most famous 1936 Olympian also makes a brief appearance in the film. That’s Zamperini’s U.S. Olympic track and field teammate — Jesse Owens.

“It made sense to acknowledge that Louie would have encountered him,” Jolie said. “Jesse Owens’ story certainly deserves its own film.”

An Owens biopic, “Race,” is slated for 2016.

Jolie and Zamperini lived in the same California neighborhood and became close friends in development of the film. Zamperini gave Jolie a gift, a golden running shoe pendant from one of his races, that she reportedly wore during filming in Australia.

Jolie said she will remember all of the details Zamperini shared with her about the Berlin Olympics.

“He would talk to me about how the shoes fit, how the uniform was cut, how the food tasted and how the girls looked — there was always a lot of talk about the food and the ladies!” Jolie said. “What struck me most is realizing how very few people get to experience the Olympic Games from the perspective of a competitor.

“It was almost 80 years ago for Louie, and his memories of it remained vivid and lasting. It demonstrated what an honor, what a defining moment, it is for anyone to look up and realize they are participating in the grandest, most historic athletic competition our world has to offer. How could that not etch itself into your memory forever?”

O’Connell, a 24-year-old actor, said he met Zamperini three times. He emphasized Zamperini’s abnormal stride, that his hips dislocated while running. O’Connell, with little running experience and mostly sprints, worked with a personal trainer on a treadmill and outdoors with resistance work to prepare for the role.

Of course, O’Connell also had to prepare to look like Zamperini as a gaunt prisoner of war. Those scenes were filmed before the Olympic race, so he was on a reported diet of 800 calories per day while training.

Breakfast? A boiled egg and salad. Lunch? A box of blueberries. Dinner? Two ounces of white meat and some vegetables. He said he dropped from nearly 150 pounds to below 120.

“If it wasn’t made from God’s green Earth, then I didn’t bother with it,” he said with an accent.

Watch trailer for ‘Unbroken’

Jolie showed Zamperini rough cut days before he died

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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