Angelina Jolie’s latest war movie, Unbroken, has been facing criticism recently from Japanese conservatives for its portrayals of brutality in World War II prisoner of war camps. While the film hasn’t even been released yet, there are some people who want to make sure it never sees the light of day in Japan.

Unbroken is Angelina Jolie’s second directorial outing and will open at cinemas across the US on Christmas Day. Based on the bestselling biography by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, it tells the story of Olympic athelete Louis “Louie” Zamperini who survived a plane crash and 47 days drifting at sea only then be captured by the Japanese and spend two and a half years in prisoner of war camps.

The movie stars Japanese rock star-turned-actor Miyavi Ishihara as solider Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe, who relentlessly taunts Zamperini in the camp. After Japan surrendered, Watanabe was classified as a war criminal, but following the Occupation he came out of hiding and went on to become a wealthy insurance salesman and died in 2003 at around age 85. Zamperini passed away on July 2 this year at the age of 97. He had apparently forgiven Watanabe for his cruel treatment and wanted to meet with him, but his olive branch was declined.

While the book describes horrific treatment of prisoners in the camps which includes being eaten alive in ritualistic acts of cannibalism, the movie does not show such extreme acts. However, from the movie’s trailer it’s obvious that acts of brutality are indeed depicted such as an incident when The Bird forces 200 fellow POWs to step up one after the other and deliver a punch to the young Zamperini’s face.

There is a movement among Japanese conservatives to ban the film inside Japan, describing its content as racist, immoral, and fabricated. Anything to do with the country’s wartime legacy still stirs up controversy within Japan and some leading politicians openly deny wartime events such as the Nanjing Massacre and claim that the forced prostitution of Korean women known as ‘comfort women’ never occurred.

Many Netizens have commented in support Jolie and her vision, saying that she is simply showing the truth and that Japan can’t hide from its past. However, there are some who pointed out that history has always written by the victors and details easily altered, and drew attention to the fact that Japan was not the only nation to commit atrocities, adding that it is not fair that their country continues to be singled out for its actions in a war that ended over half a century ago.

As the movie is still unreleased, few if any of its detractors are really in a position to criticize its content. However, with no release date confirmed for Japan, some conservatives are doing their best to try to make sure that the general public never have the chance to judge it for themselves.

Source: Kaigai no Omaera, Sankei
Header Image: YouTube