Richard LaGravenese to Adapt WWII POW Drama UNBROKEN for Director Francis Lawrence

     March 29, 2011


Universal Pictures has hired Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You) to adapt the Laura Hillenbrand bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.  Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) is attached to direct, and last we checked, Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) was in talks to write the script.  Deadline’s report doesn’t mention how it went down, but Lawrence and LaGravenese have established a prior working relationship: they teamed for the adaptation of Water for Elephants, which hits theaters April 22.

Unbroken tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian and WWII bombadier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943.  Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles — he was caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where he was specifically targeted by a sadistic overseer.  Read the full book synopsis after the break:


On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. [Amazon]

Inspirational true stories set in a WWII prison camp are en vogue right now: David Seidler (The King’s Speech) and collaborator Luca Manzi are scripting Games of 1940, the story of a group of POWs in a Nazi prison camp who staged the “International Prisoner-of-War Olympic Games” when the 1940 Olympics were cancelled due to World War II.

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