War! Intrigue! Nazis vs. Zoo animals!
BQB here with a review of The Zookeeper’s Wife.
Based on a true story, this film tells the tale of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, owners/operators of the Warsaw Zoo who used their property to save persecuted Jews during World War II.
Before the war, Jan (Johan Heldenburgh) and Atonina (Jessica Chastain), live an idyllic life. They love animals and they take care of zebras, elephants, lions, tigers, all sorts of exotic animals on their sprawling property. They even do a good business, charging admission.
Alas, all this changes because of the Nazis. Oh you dirty Nazis, you’re always the turd in history’s punch bowl, aren’t you?
The Zabinskis’ zoo is partially destroyed by Nazi bombs dropped all over the city. What’s left is confiscated. The animals are shot and turned into meat and soap for the Nazi war effort.
Sidenote: Whether it’s during World War II or more recently in Venezuela, once the government resorts to shooting zoo animals for food, shit is not good.
Back to the review. Long story short, what’s left of the zoo is turned over to Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), a German zoologist who had once been a friend of the Zabinskis in happier times. Sadly, once Lutz puts on a Nazi uniform and becomes Hitler’s official zoologist, he gets a little too drunk on power and becomes an insufferable douchen-dorfer.
You know you want to see this movie just because the villain is a Nazi zoologist, don’t you?
Anyway, being the good people that they are, the Zabinskis begin rescuing and hiding their close Jewish friends. Pretty soon, they realize that with underground tunnels once used to house tigers, buildings and trucks, they have all the means necessary to run a Jewish rescue/hiding/smuggling to safety operation.
The danger comes from the fact that they must do all this right under the nose of their ex-friend turned Nazi.
Will the Zabinskis be successful? Will they be caught?
You’ve got to watch to find out.
Overall, it’s a touching story. So many stories came out of WWII and they continue even today.
Much credit is due to the Zabinskis. They probably could have relied on their friendship with a Nazi to ride out World War II by just keeping their heads down and going about their business. Instead, they put themselves into great danger and in doing so, saved the lives of hundreds of people.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. A good movie, sort of an Oscar-bait film designed to show off Jessica Chastain’s acting chops. Not necessary to rush out to the theater but it’s worth a rental.