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Angelina Jolie is beginning to forge quite a career for herself as a director who’s not afraid to tackle difficult subjects on screen. Her WWII movie, Unbroken was released last November to mixed reviews, but made almost $162 million worldwide. Now, the film is finally getting to screen in a country that wouldn’t allow it before.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Japan has decided to let the movie screen in their country, after the release was pulled earlier this year. For somewhat apparent reasons, some Japanese had problems with the film. A right wing group, the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, heavily protested the film’s release in the country, and was able to sway Toho-Tawa, the company which releases Universal’s films in Japan, away from letting the movie into theaters.
Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini, and based on the 2010 book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand. Zamperini was an Olympic athlete who became a lieutenenat during WWII. When his plane was downed during the war, he spent 47 days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean, only to be discovered by the Japanese navy and taken off to a POW camp. The movie details the two years of torture and starvation that Zamperini endured while in the camp.
The Japanese group that protested the film’s release said that the general tone of the movie was "anti-Japanese", but their main complaint was with something that didn’t even end up in the movie. The book details acts of cannibalism inflicted on the POW’s by their Japanese captors, and these allegations were never captured on screen for the film. Unbroken will now be screened at one theater in the Shibuya district of Tokyo in February of 2016. The film is going to be distributed by Japanese indie distributor, Bitters End.
Angelina Jolie has called repeatedly for the movie to be screened in Japan. She maintains that her film tries to show both sides and also that since it’s based on one man’s experience it has to stay true to what he remembers of that time. Japanese pop star Miyavi, who plays the sadistic general in charge of the POW camp, was reluctant to play the role, but changed his mind after meeting with Jolie and coming to feel the movie was really about forgiveness and hope.
Well, this is clearly a touchy subject for the Japanese, which is easy to see. There probably isn’t a lot of love in Japan for films that show them to be the bad guys, but there is something to say, in general, about the idea of censorship. People should be allowed to talk about whatever they want, however they want. But, everyone needs to keep in mind that that doesn’t mean anyone else has to like it.