I say “this year’s best” but, in actuality, Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption came out in November, 2010. AND IT’S STILL IN HARDCOVER. For a little perspective on how crazy popular this book has been, paperbacks come out one year after initial publication and the only time publishers break this rule is when they think a book is popular enough that you’d be willing to slap down the extra cash to get it. This money grab (can you blame the floundering publishers?) is usually reserved for juggernaut series books. Dance With Dragons? Just over two years. Catching Fire? Just under four years. Mockingjay? Still no sign. But it’s incredible that this harrowing true story of three men who, against all odds, struggled to survive for 47 days on a life raft after their WWII plane crashed into the ocean has been as popular as those of Dany and Katniss, the girls on fire.
Laura Hillenbrand, of course, wrote the fantastic book Seabiscuit and has a knack for making even the most foreign industries (horse racing? really?) fascinating. Her books read like gripping novels. So imagine how enthralling she made a life or death story like this. I loved the movie Seabiscuit but I have even higher hopes for this film, adapted by The Coen Brothers and Richard LaGravenese (Behind The Candelabra). This will be Angelina Jolie’s second time directing and her comment on the process is exactly the blend of intelligence and just a smidge of sanctimony we’ve come to expect from her. On shooting out on open waters: “On set, we started to joke and say, ‘Tomorrow will be easier,’ knowing full well that on this challenging shoot, there are no easy days. Anytime it gets tough, we think of the real men who lived through this, and no one complains. In fact, we all just feel honored to be here.”
The three young actors are relatively unknown: Domnhall Gleeson (Harry Potter, About Time), Finn Wittrock (All My Children), and Jack O’Connell (Skins). So, in case you’re counting, that two soap stars and a Weasley in a boat. Here are a few early snaps courtesy of Entertainment Weekly. The movie is slated to be released next Christmas which means you have a whole year to do the reading.