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

  • Demi Lovato to help war-scarred children in Iraq

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Demi Lovato has been named a Global Citizen mental health ambassador at the organization's music festival in New York City's Central Park. The singer who has struggled with mental health issues herself was named Saturday. Source
  • Meghan Markle's ex developing 'splitcom' with royal family ties: report

    Entertainment CBC News
    Meghan Markle, Suits actress and girlfriend of Prince Harry, might have inspired a new sitcom being developed by her ex-husband, a television producer. According to Deadline.com, Trevor Engelson is producing a comedy pilot with a royal connection alongside Modern Family executive producer Danny Zuker. Source
  • Charles Bradley, ‘Screaming Eagle of Soul,’ dead at age 68

    Entertainment CTV News
    Acclaimed soul singer Charles Bradley has died after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. "It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Charles Bradley," a statement released on Bradley’s official Facebook profile reads. Source
  • Colin Firth takes Italian citizenship after Brexit decision

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON - British actor Colin Firth says he has taken Italian citizenship as a "sensible" move amid global political uncertainty. Firth, who is married to environmentalist Livia Giuggioli, says he has become a dual U.K. Source
  • ‘Pure joy’: B.C. man hits the stage for duet with Paul McCartney

    Entertainment CTV News
    A British Columbia man received the chance of a lifetime on Thursday when he performed a duet alongside legendary singer Paul McCartney. Gregg Anderson, a postage clerk from Grand Forks, B.C., sang alongside the former Beatle during the sound check of his Thursday concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Source
  • Daddy Yankee's fans fill 4 trucks of donations for hurricane, earthquake victims

    Entertainment CBC News
    When Daddy Yankee calls, people answer. So when the reggaeton star went on social media to ask fans to help victims of Hurricane Maria in his native Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico, his fans delivered with an avalanche of donations. Source
  • Authorities close in on Kevin Hart's extortioner after uncovering evidence: report

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Authorities are reportedly confident they will catch those responsible for attempting to extort Kevin Hart, after several warranted searches led to officers uncovering vital evidence. The 38-year-old actor was allegedly asked to pay a seven-figure sum to avoid a sex tape being leaked, with the footage allegedly showing the comedian in a compromising situation with a woman other than his pregnant wife Eniko Parrish. Source
  • Shawn Mendes donates $100k to Mexican earthquake relief

    Entertainment CBC News
    Shawn Mendes has launched an online fundraiser to help those affected by the Mexican earthquake just days after he escaped safely from the quake ahead of a planned show in Mexico City, an incident he called "pretty scary. Source
  • 'Underneath is turmoil:' Sarah Gadon on the challenges of Alias Grace

    Entertainment CBC News
    Churchill's saying about a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma? He could have been talking about Grace Marks, the woman at the centre of Alias Grace. There's a lot bubbling under the surface in the new CBC-TV and Netflix miniseries adapted from Margaret Atwood's award-winning novel, inspired by the true story of Grace Marks, a poor Irish immigrant and domestic servant accused and convicted of murder in 19th century Canada. Source
  • 'Nobody wants to talk about death:' Patients' stories inspire play about palliative care

    Entertainment CBC News
    In a small dark room in North End Halifax, an audience sits in a circle, their chairs facing inward as four actors move around them reciting lines. There's no set, no microphones, no costumes. "The words the doctor had used were: 'You have advanced cancer. Source