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Angelina Jolie is pretty much the epitome of fame. And not just in a celebrity, pop icon type of way. She has had quite the acting career with an Academy Award and Golden Globes to prove it. Jolie also is an avid humanitarian traveling around the world to help those in need, and has even promoted humanitarian causes on a political podium. And now, the actress turned director, just completed her second directorial venture, Unbroken which tells an incredible story so inspiring, that it landed her an introduction to the Pope.
Adapted from the popular non-fiction book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, the war drama follows the true story of an Olympic track star turned war hero. After surviving a plane crash, only to drift on a raft to a Japanese POW camp, Louie Zamperini has to undergo extreme odds. The true story dives deep into the resilient power of the human spirit, and it is a story so inspiring, that Jolie met with the pope to discuss. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jolie and Pope Francis discussed the history of Zamperini, and how the Olympian overcame extreme trauma through his own faith. Jolie didn’t go into any depth about Zamperini’s religion, but the film does end with a slide explaining how Zamperini credited God for his revival, and saving his life after so many years of severe post-traumatic stress.
In the book Unbroken it covers Zamperini’s faith in more depth, discussing his conversion to Christianity in midlife after his struggles with PTSD, alcohol and a failing marriage. Jolie and Pope Francis met after Unbroken was screened at the Vatican. While the religious icon was unable to watch the film because of commitments, Jolie and her daughters, Shiloh and Zahara, met with him afterwards, and he presented Jolie with a rosary upon their encounter. Jolie told La Repubblica:
"Being invited to screen Unbroken at the Vatican is an honor and a tribute to the legacy of Louis, a man of faith that represents the strength of the human spirit."
Louis Zamperini, the war veteran that the film is based on, died at age 97, right after the film had completed filming. He is portrayed by Jack O’Connell in Jolie’s film, and the film was released right in the thick of the Oscar race. The film came out on Christmas, and despite the impressive competition, did extremely well at the box office. It’s alleged that films with more inspirational themes do well during Christmas time, since people flock the theaters for heart-warming stories. But also, the screenplay was written by Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen, so it is bound to hold strong storytelling. We’ll see if the film is up for any Academy Awards later this week, but if the story deems impressive enough for a discussion with the Pope, it is probably worth seeing.