Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' opens in Japan, where film's theme is controversial

TOKYO -- Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" opened Saturday more than a year after the rest of the world in Japan, where the main character endures as a prisoner of war and where some have called for a boycott of the movie.

See Full Article

There were concerns that right-wing extremists may try to disrupt the opening. But the crowd at Theatre Image Forum in Tokyo, a small theatre that specializes in independent films and documentaries, was peaceful, appearing engrossed in the film, flinching at the torture scenes and sympathizing with the hero, Louis Zamperini.

The distributor said in a statement that it decided to go ahead with the showing because various views on war should be expressed, and because it was unnatural for a movie about Japan not to be shown in the country.

A publicity official said the company had received some angry calls when it first announced the film's showing in October. Other than that, nothing unusual happened, and the film is scheduled to be shown in other theatres throughout Japan.

"Unbroken" is based on the true story of Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who gets shot down in a U.S. bomber and survives by floating in the ocean on an inflatable boat, but gets captured by the Japanese. He survives horrible torture in World War II camps until Japan's defeat in 1945.

Much of the negative chatter on social media in Japan about "Unbroken," which still continues to some extent, alleges that the movie is "anti-Japanese."

Many taking offence at the film are outraged that the book on which the movie is based mentions that Japanese soldiers engaged in cannibalism, although the film does not touch on the subject at all. Some historians say some Japanese soldiers did engage in cannibalism.

The anger over "Unbroken" has brewed despite Japan boasting a long list of directors who made distinguished anti-war movies, including Akira Kurosawa and Kihachi Okamoto. Nagisa Oshima's "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," starring David Bowie, has a plot similar to "Unbroken," taking place in a POW camp.

But some in Japan have also had a hard time coming to terms with the country's brutal past of colonizing Asian neighbours and the barbaric acts carried out by the Imperial Army, such as the Rape of Nanjing, which began in 1937 and left 300,000 Chinese dead.

Similarly, they reject historical studies that show women from several Asian countries, especially Korea, were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military. Some oppose the term "sex slave," which the U.N. uses, preferring the euphemistic "comfort women."

In "Unbroken," Japanese characters do little but grunt, scream, punch and kick.

Still, the film ends on a reconciliatory note, showing an elderly Zamperini proudly carrying the torch for the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and Japanese on the streets cheering.

As a young man, Zamperini had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a runner, and had hopes to go to the next games, set to be held in Tokyo. But by then the war had started.

After seeing "Unbroken," Katsuyuki Miyata, a member of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces, said that the closing scene was the best part of the film.

"I'd heard it was an anti-Japanese movie," Miyata said. "But it was a good movie."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Serena Williams' latest shot: pregnant and nude on magazine cover

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Serena Williams is showing off her pregnancy with a nude photo on the cover of the August issue of Vanity Fair. The tennis superstar is seen in profile with her right arm covering her breasts and her pregnant stomach prominently on display. Source
  • ‘Big Brother’ host Julie Chen promises a season you won’t be able to resist

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    “Temptation is the fire that brings up the scum of the heart.” -William Shakespeare Depressed that Big Brother Canada was cancelled after airing its best season yet? Disgusted by the chaotic and over-the-line mess that is BB U.K. Source
  • Alec Baldwin will return to 'SNL' next season with his Donald Trump impersonation

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    He's getting another term - Alec Baldwin will bring his pursed lips and blonde wig back to the "Saturday Night Live" stage next season, the actor told CNN. "We're going to fit that in. I think people have enjoyed it," Baldwin said in an interview. Source
  • 'Baby Driver' review: Edgar Wright takes Ansel Elgort on an entertaining thrill ride

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Smack-dab in the middle of a really lousy summer for cinema comes something wild: a crime drama/romance/coming-of-age cocktail called Baby Driver. If you know the films of Edgar Wright — Shaun of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End — you’ll want to see this. Source
  • 'Okja' review: Heartwarming fable of girl and her pet delivers powerful message

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Okja is a giant pig. To the little girl who has raised her, Okja is the family pet. To the multi-national conglomerate that genetically engineered her, Okja is dinner for the masses. You can see the problem. Source
  • The return of Pepe: Cartoonist Matt Furie aims to resurrect chill frog

    Entertainment CBC News
    Pepe the Frog is coming back from the dead. Los Angeles-based cartoonist Matt Furie told The Associated Press on Monday that he intends to resurrect the character he killed off last month in what appeared to be a rebuke to racist, anti-Semitic internet trolls who hijacked his creation, transforming it into a hate symbol. Source
  • Rascal Flatts surprises bride and groom at wedding reception

    Entertainment CTV News
    In this May 22, 2017, file photo, Rascal Flatts band members, from left, Joe Don Rooney, Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus perform on NBC's 'Today' show at Rockefeller Plaza in New York. The band surprised a bride and groom in Watertown, Wisconsin, on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Source
  • U2 bassist thanks band for helping him through addiction: 'they loved me before I knew how to love myself' [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — In a frank and heartfelt speech, U2 bassist Adam Clayton thanked his bandmates of four decades for their support during his treatment and recovery for alcohol abuse years ago, and then joined them for a rollicking rendition of a few hits. Source
  • Leslie Jones blasts Ritz-Carlton: 'They don't like black people'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Leslie Jones has slammed The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Los Angeles after a disastrous stay, alleging she was treated badly because she’s a black woman. The Ghostbusters actress was celebrating a successful weekend after she hosted the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards on Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Source
  • Aretha Franklin cancels Toronto show due to health issues

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    TORONTO - Disappointing news for fans of the legendary “Queen of Soul.” Aretha Franklin has pulled out of a scheduled Canada Day concert at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts due to health issues. The TD Toronto Jazz Festival says on its website that Franklin is unable to travel to Toronto this week “as per doctor’s orders. Source