Political outrage has many a time suppressed the voice of an artistic creation, irrespective of country and marginal boundaries. Angelina Jolie’s much celebrated movie “Unbroken”, a story of survival, resilience, and redemption, which is set in the canvas of World War II has also faced a rigid protest from the Japanese right-wingers. The movie was described as racist and an anti-Japanese anecdote but it has finally found a distributor willing to release it in Japan. This was over a year after its release, despite the pursuits of the nationalists who attempted to prevent it from being screened.
The directorial venture of Jolie has reflected the tale of an American Olympic athlete and air force pilot Louis Zamperini, who was abducted and imprisoned by the Japanese army after his B-24 bomber crashed into the Pacific in 1943. The picture, based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 best-seller “Unbroken: A World War II”, was the subject of protests and threats last year by Japanese right wingers, as it depicts the war prisoner being tortured by a sadistic Japanese guard. The film, stars Jack O’Connell as WWII bombardier and Olympic medallist, Louis Zamperini and pop singer/actor Miyavi has essayed the portrayal of a sadistic POW camp guard. The film was supposed to be screened in Japan earlier this year but was maligned with anti-Japanese tag by so-called “net uyoku” (net rightists), who typically do not belong to any organized group, but make their opinions known on 2channel, popular Internet message boards, and blog sites.
The case persuaded Toho-Towa, the usual distributor of Universal’s titles, to delay the film’s release indefinitely. Now after the cold combat of nerves, Indie distributor Bitters End will now handle the release and it is presumably all set to hit the theater in February 2016. Initially, the film will go for a single screen release at Theater Image Forum, a venue in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
Though it was abruptly pulled from Japanese screening schedules, it was opened in the U.S. in December 2014, with Universal distributing and earned $162 million worldwide. However, now it is all set to mark a new start on the opening day of the 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival as Yuji Sadai, head of distributors of Bitters End has confirmed. Japanese posters promoting the movie describe it as a true story of a “man who survived two years of hell in a prison camp”.
Notably, the activists, who claimed that the narration about the war prisoner who spent two years enduring torture and starvation in Japan is historically inaccurate, did not even watch the film.
Hiromichi Moteki, head of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, a nationalist pressure group that led the campaign against “Unbroken”, considered the film to be fabricated and humiliating with the allegation of exhibiting portrayals of Japanese soldiers carrying out acts of cannibalism on prisoners of war. Interestingly, the fact is something completely different. The book does contain claims of cannibalism, but Jolie’s film didn’t adapt those sequences.
Photo Source: Instagram/Angelina Jolie