It was only a matter of time. Laura Hillenbrand, riding off the success of her debut novel Seabiscuit: An American Legend, a novel which was later brought to the silver screen by film-maker Gary Ross (Pleasantville), followed that book up with Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, which chronicles the unbreakable spirit of one Louis Zamperini. Louis, a former Olympic track prodigy, fought during the Second World War and endured unimaginable hardship as a POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards.
For director Francis Lawrence (Constatine, I Am Legend), it will be his second stint working with LaGravenese on bringing a best-selling book to the big screen. This year will see the release of Water for Elephants, for which Lawrence directed and LaGravense penned the adaptive screenplay.
Since its publication back in November 2010, Unbroken has either been at or near the top of The New York Times for 18 straight weeks. Universal Pictures who acquired the film rights had previously optioned the rights to do a film on Louis Zamperini as far back as 1957. Tony Curtis was to have starred.
If you’ve never read Unbroken or know of Zamperini’s story, it reads like a movie. He went from Depression Era trouble-maker to a world class runner. He was the youngest American to compete on the U.S. team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Later he would be a Air Force bombardier in WWII. Crashing into the Pacific, he and two other crew mates floated on a raft for 47 days, battling hunger, thirst and sharks, before being caught by the Japanese Navy, where they were brutally beaten at the hands of Japanese guards inside a POW camp.
Just that passage alone makes me want to pick up Hillenbrand’s novel and learn more about this man. Even still, with Francis Lawrence directing you have to wonder who will be cast in the role of Louis Zamperini. Christoph Waltz bears a resemblance but is far too old for the role. Look at the photo above and let us know your picks.
Tags: Water for Elephants