Japanese moviegoers will eventually get the opportunity to determine Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s movie about an American POW tortured by the Japanese, despite attempts by right-wingers to prevent its release.
Before being screened at other places, based on media reports, the movie, that was released in the US along with other nations at the conclusion of last year, will likely be shown in a theater in Tokyo.
Directed by Jolie, Unbroken tells the story of the US Olympic runner and air force aviator Louis Zamperini, who spent 47 days adrift after his B24 bomber crashed into the Pacific.
After being caught he spent in prison camps where he was tortured and starved by guards.
Rightwing activists established campaigns on Change.org and Facebook calling for the movie to be banned, and for Jolie to be told she was no longer welcome in Japan. A spokesman for the ultra-conservative pressure group the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact described the film as “pure fabrication”.
Zamperini, who died this past year aged 97, after returned to Japan to meet with his captors, but a prison guard named Mutsuhiro Watanabe, his leader wartime tormentor, allegedly turned down his request for a meeting.
The Japanese promotional posters for the movie describe it as the true story of a guy “who survived hell for a couple of years in a prison camp”.
Jolie said she wasn’t worried about the criticism of her picture. “It’s a lovely picture which has a lovely message,” she told USA Today in December ahead of the film’s worldwide release.
“We were quite cognizant of showing all sides of the war, like the bombing of Tokyo. But this is Louis’ encounter and he … had a very difficult time as a POW. So we wish to pay respect and reveal that all people suffer in war.”
Unbroken is not the first foreign film to have drawn criticism from Japan’s ultra-nationalists.
The movie was shown after leading film industry figures called on films and distributors to defend free speech.