He survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific and spent two years in a Japanese prison camp but the life of former Olympian Louis Zamperini is currently being played out on cinema screens across Australia.
Zamperini passed away last year aged 97 after living extraordinary life which was told in the 2010 book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand.
And now, that story has been brought to the silver screen as Unbroken which was directed by Angelina Jolie and filmed at various locations across Queensland and New South Wales.
Brisbane resident, Bob Livingstone worked on the film as the B-24 advisor to make sure Zamperini’s WWII service in the Liberator was portrayed accurately.
“They had a fabulous collection of photographs taken of the real aeroplane in colour of course and so they had a pretty good idea at what they were looking at. They had racks and racks and racks of equipment to bolt into the right places, some of which would be waved at me and said “Where would this be?” when they couldn’t find it in the photograph. If I didn’t know, I just used experience.”
Bob spent a number of weeks on the Unbroken set and got involved in the daily routine of making a big budget film.
“I was there as an advisor to the Directors. If they had any questions about how a scene would be filmed or would this be real or what would happen when this happened. I also discovered that there were a lot of other roles I wound up having to play as well involving the individual crew members.”
The aircraft itself was built in Mexico from drawings I should well imagine, and the bomb bay is definitely original, the bomb bay beams that hung the bombs off and we had fibreglass 500lb bombs to hang off it. There were supposed to be bomb doors but they didn’t ever turn up so the guys improvised with some roller doors from a garage cut to shape and size.”
The Liberator also holds a special place in Bob’s heart.
“I have a painting on my wall which was done by an English painter who has done a lot of Liberator paintings and he knows the aeroplane well. And it’s the aircraft that my father ferried from the United States, right through the UK and down through Africa and into India.”
Bob had a great time working on the film and got the chance to see the final product at the Queensland premiere on the Gold Coast at the end of last year.
So what did he think about the overall scenes that he helped to create?
“The CGI is top class, the photography is top class as well. The aviation slash flying scenes are… very good.”
Unbroken opened in cinemas across Australia on Thursday.
You can learn more about the B-24 Liberator’s service in the Pacific and take a look at the only one left in Australia here.