The Zookeeper’s Wife: A Story of Compassion & Courage!
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Niki Caro’s ‘The Zookeepers Wife’ is not only the horrific depiction of what happened in Warsaw, Poland when Nazis occupied that city in 1939 during the Second World War, but also the depiction of a good-hearted couple who staunchly believed in human values above social, religious and racial discrimination. The film is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Diane Ackerman, narrating how the Jews survived and got rescued from the Nazi invasion. It is the story of how some ordinary people become extraordinary and rise to the occasion during crisis. There are many in the human history like them who have done so and the film The Zookeeper’s Wife is about the Zabinskis and how their Warsaw Zoo became a hideout for hundreds of Jews who were under the radar of the brutal Nazi forces. The Nazi occupation of their city created chaos and turbulence and the Jews were hunted down and captured. The film reveals that only 6% of the Warsaw population survived the war.
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We know how the Germans under the dictatorship of Hitler believed that they are he Aryans of the world and are born to rule the whole world. The holocaust and its aftermath are still a nightmare for those who go through the pages of world history and would pray not to ever witness or hear about it again. But unfortunately the current international scenario and the happenings in Syria and many other countries are not less than what we read in the history. The Zookeeper’s Wife is a gentle reminder for many of us to rise up to the occasion and cease to be ordinary and play our role to safeguard human values and lives in a world of war mongers and religious animosities.
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Jessica Chastain’s Antonina Zabinski is an animal lover and a good soul who not only understands what they say by looking deep into their eyes but also knows how to keep her visiting guests happy around the zoo. She and her husband Jan (Heldenbergh), both are found in a dilemma leaving their Zoo and abandoning the animals at the mercy of the invading Nazi army. Amidst bombings and killings they decide to stay back to take care of the remaining animals who survived the bombings. But destiny had something else in store for them – a greater responsibility that they too didn’t know would be always be remembered for what they did under their limited capacities.
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Niki Caro ensures to convey the gravity of the Nazi invasion and their brutality not through gory scenes and violence but in a subtle way which still leaves a deep impact on the viewers to imagine the plight of the victims and survivors then. Both Jessica and Heldenbergh have given an awesome performance which moves you and also at the same time keeps you alert along with them so that you are not caught by the Nazis. Daniel Bruhl as Lutz Heck the German Head Zoologist of Hitler’s team plays his role to its hilt. His weakness for Jessica and his loyalty towards Hitler are too contrasting emotions he brings on the front with great ease. It becomes difficult to understand him because he is mysterious, cruel and at the same time he appears to be a lover. By the time we decipher he becomes not what we expect him to be and this character of his keeps you on tenterhooks.
The beauty of the movie is that though it depicts one of the most horrific black chapters of human history yet it ends with a ray of hope and positivity. It reiterates the efforts and good intentions of good people in the world who believe that if you fight for justice and compassion with courage you will definitely sail through turbulence and reach the shore of harmony and co-existence despite being different in many aspects for each other as individuals, country, race and religion. Go and watch ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ because we are living at a time when the media and the news around us reminds us its high time we play our role to safe guard humanity and brotherhood across the globe.
Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.5/5
Cast: Jessica Chastian (Antonina Zabinski), Johan Heldenbergh (Jan Zabinski), Michael McElhatton (Jerzyk), Daniel Bruhl (Lutz Heck)
Genre: Biographical War Drama
Director: Niki Caro
Producers: Jeff Abberley, Jamie Atriccof, Diane Miller Levin, Kim Zubick, Julia Blackman
Based on: The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
Screenplay by: William Wheeler
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography: Andrij Parekh
Edited by: David Coulson
Production Companies: Scion Films, Electric City Entertainment, Tollin Productions, Rowe/Miller Productions
Distributors: Focus Features
Release Date: 21st April, 2017
Duration: 126 Minutes