Wednesday, November 19, 2014












By Donna Littlejohn, The Daily Breeze

Forget Black Friday.
A week earlier — in just two days — it will be Zamperini Friday in Torrance.
That’s when tickets for a special, hometown prerelease screening of “Unbroken” go on sale — but only for members of the Torrance Historical Society. The launch is likely to draw long lines of people in downtown Torrance, where Zamperini grew up.
Ever since the Dec. 16 event was announced Tuesday night by Debbie Hays of the Torrance Historical Society, people hoping to score a coveted ticket to see the film before its Christmas Day general release have flooded the organization with requests.
“(The) phone and emails are going crazy,” Hays wrote in an email Wednesday. “(We) already have people pounding on the door of the museum insisting they get tickets now.”
The Torrance Historical Society is hosting the special screening of the much-anticipated film about hometown hero Louis Zamperini as a fundraiser in two AMC Del Amo theaters (with fewer than 600 seats altogether).
An added perk: The screening will be attended by film producer Matt Baer and members of the Zamperini family, who will take part in a post-film question-answer segment with the audience.
Tickets can only be purchased in person on Friday for members of the Torrance Historical Society only and Dec. 1 for the general public at the Torrance Historical Society and Museum, 1355 Post Ave., Torrance.
Tickets will be for sale for $25 each from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. both days. There’s a limit of two tickets per person. Only cash or a check made out to Torrance Historical Society will be accepted.
Proceeds will be dedicated to the Louis Zamperini Trust Collection at the Torrance Historical Society and other related events or projects.
Known as the “Torrance Tornado” for his running prowess, Zamperini was born on Jan. 26, 1917, in Olean, N.Y., to Italian immigrants. The family moved to Torrance two years later and, after a trouble-prone childhood, Zamperini went on to excel in track at Torrance High School, setting a U.S. high school record that stood for 19 years.
The rest of his story — running in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, surviving a plane crash and enemy torture in World War II and a conversion to Christianity that produced decades of good works and inspiration shared worldwide — is legendary, captured by author Laura Hillenbrand in the 2010 best-seller “Unbroken” that became the basis for the new biopic which is being advertised as “the unbelievable true story.”
While filmmakers consulted with members of the Torrance Historical Society, no filming was actually done in the city. Instead, look-alike locations in Australia were used to portray the 1930s-era South Bay city where Zamperini grew up.
He died in July from complications of pneumonia but was able to see much of the raw film footage when director Angelina Jolie took her laptop to his hospital bed.
She said she took on the challenge of filming “Unbroken,” which has defeated many before her, because she wanted to create a story of hope.
“I wanted to learn from Louis and be around this great man, but I wanted to put something out in the world that reminded us all of the strength of the human spirit and brotherhood and faith and all of the things that will, in the end, get us through these dark times,” Jolie said.
Universal Studios purchased the rights to Hillenbrand’s book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” in 2011, but it took the involvement of Jolie and screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen to finally bring it to the big screen.
“The fundamental turn in it becoming a movie was when Angelina came on,” said Baer, the producer, speaking at a news conference this week in Australia. “She had the solutions to what had ailed the script prior, which was being able to figure out structurally along with the Coen brothers how to craft a movie that played with time and still maintained the essence of the character.”
“Unbroken” was mostly shot in the Australian state of New South Wales and premiered in Sydney on Monday.
The film’s Australian unveiling at the State Theatre drew a packed house, according to an article in Variety, with the black-tie audience gasping audibly at some scenes. The applause during final credits drowned out part of the Coldplay song written and recorded especially for the film.
British-born actor Jack O’Connell stars as Zamperini, who survived 47 days drifting in a life-raft at sea and was later a Japanese prisoner-of-war.
As part of the audition, O’Connell was locked in a dark cell and beaten with a rubber baton — but that was only the beginning of the difficulties he faced in the lead role.
“The biggest challenge of my life yeah, easily ,” he said. “It all accumulates to one pretty enormous test for me as an actor. But the whole time I had Louis’ example constantly dwarfing whatever hardship I was experiencing.
“So once you accept the reality there, it would be very inconsistent of me to start feeling sorry for myself then.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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