A couple of years ago, the Coen brothers had only written one screenplay that they did not, in turn, also direct: Sam Raimi‘s Crimewave, that huge misfire of wacky-violent comedy that is lucky to be so much as readily acknowledged by anyone directly involved in its creation. (This doesn’t negate its status as a curious early-career artifact, though.) Recently, the sibling pair scripted a remake of Gambit which, a majority of reports have indicated, didn’t go too well for themselves, the director, or anyone in its cast. Something just doesn’t translate.
So, as much as their work is loved, trepidation of further, similar ventures should be exercised with full necessity. And, yet, there is a new job which could break that spell, as THR inform us Joel and Ethan Coen have been assigned to rewrite Unbroken, a fact-based drama that Angelina Jolie had become attached to direct this past December; although the extent of their duties are not disclosed — i.e., if this is a total do-over or simple pass-through — it’s bound to express fidelity to its respected source material. How much that can separate it from the prior work of Richard LaGravanese and William Nicholson, regardless of said extent, becomes a more complicated question.
Based on the account penned by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken tells the true story of World War II pilot Louis Zamperini, who entered the war after competing in the 1936 Olympics as a runner. He ended up in the midst of an incredible ordeal when his plane crashed over the Pacific, after which he and two fellow members were stranded on a raft. One died during the 47 days spent aboard, what with the low supply of food or water, while he and the surviving comrade drifted to a POW camp, only to spend three years attempting to survive in this different kind of hell.
Needless to say, Unbroken will bring forth a story of times more trying than anything the Coen brothers have scripted; given their penchant for injecting humor into the macabre, a few creative possibilities might open up before us. However, it’s best not to speculate on them for now — it’s so early out, obviously — and, rather, see where this could end up going in the coming year or so, step-by-step. With the pair helping out Jolie, one’s hard-pressed not to cast so much as an eager glance.
Does the presence of Joel and Ethan Coen lend interest to whatever comes of Unbroken?