Review Blog

THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on March 31, 2017 at 5:05 PM

Directed by: Niki Caro

Running time: 2 ours 4 minutes

Release date: March 31, 2017

Genre: Drama, Biopic, History, and Adaptation

Distributor: Focus Features

MPAA Rating: PG-13

The Zookeeper's Wife is film written and directed by a woman, about an unheralded female herione.  It is story telling the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonia and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of Jewish people and their animals during the German invasion and occupation during 1940s World War II.

Jessica Chastian brilliantly portrays Antonia Zabinski, a compassionate and confident married woman whose love of human beings and animals is exemplified by her love of life.  This film paints a richly portrait of a natural that few of us would recognize.  It explores how that sense of natural order imploded under the Nazi occupation of Poland.  Jan (Johan Heidenbergh) and Antonia, keepers of the Warsaw Zoo who sheltered Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, while managing their animals deal with German pressures.  With courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews, as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds.  The film uses Antonia's diaries, other contemporary sources, and author of the nonfiction book by the same title by Diane Ackerman to craft screenplay writer and director's film adaptation.

The Zookeeper's Wife is passion of life in all its diversity and tells the remarkable World War II story of how the 1943 Jewish uprising and also describes the Polish revolt against the Nazi occupiers in 1944. The climatic scenes are presented as many cages in the zoo are emptied of animals during the air assault on Warsaw, and the Zabinski family decided to utilize them as hiding places for fleeing Jews. Over the course of three years, hundred of Jews found temporary shelter in these abandoned animal cells.  In addition, close to a dozen Jews were sheltered in Antonia Zabinski's two-story private home on the zoo grounds under the nose of a persistantly sexual stalking Nazi Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), with the threat of son Ryszard Zabinski's life at stake.

Epic and historical in nature, this character(s) study plot presentation portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and stories involving intense character developement and interaction is acccompanied by dramatic scope.  It is a period piece that covers a large expanse of time set against a vast panoramic backdrop.

This is a narrative told with grace, empathy, and conviction.  A brilliant character bio-drama vehicle portrayed and led by Jessica Chastain, giving recognition to Antonia and husband Dr. Jan Zabinski under the World War II German occupation of Warsaw, Poland.  The film maintains a high standard of production values and perfomances.  It's pacing, tone , and structure is perfect.  This is an Academy Award winning capable film.  A must see movie!



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