Throughout high school and college we learn about the horrible things that happened during World War II. For me, six years spent in German class taught me more about the topic than basic history classes and I’ve watched my fair share of movies surrounding that time period and the Holocaust. However, most are based on scripts and loosely based on history. Apart from one or two films, we only tend to see movies filled with violence and war and not ones that focus on the lesser known heroes and survivors of that time. The education we get on that part of our history is mostly facts, less personal and allows us to separate ourselves from the reality of what happened.
The month, a movie based on World War II is hitting theaters and is unlike any other one we’ve seen in the past. The Zookeeper’s Wife was written by Angela Workman (based on the nonfiction book by Diane Ackerman) and Directed by Niki Caro. Together, these powerhouses are bringing the story of a strong woman to the silver screen – a story that was almost lost to history.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is really the story of Antonina Żabińska (played by Jessica Chastain) and her family. Antonina is unconventional compared to her contemporaries, and after losing her parents during the Russian Revolution, the current political climate in Warsaw beings to feel a bit too familiar. Together with her husband, they begin to work together to create a network to help friends and others escape the Warsaw Ghetto before they were sent to concentration camps and ultimately would be killed.
Antonina puts everything at risk, her marriage, her life and even her own children to do what she felt was right and try to save people she never met before. Her compassion towards animals and everyone she encountered can be seen throughout the story and Chastain brings this beautifully to life. The movie does have a bit of violence, as can be expected in any movie tackling the topic – but there is more implied than on the screen.
The Zookeeper’s Wife brings this powerful story to life, but is as much an emotional journey as it is a historical story. I found myself crying through a good portion of the movie and at the amazing sacrifices that a mother would make for others. This is a movie that should be shown in classrooms to teach more about humanity, World War II and even history.
You can check out The Zookeeper’s Wife in select cities on March 31st. The movie will open nationwide shortly after. Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing true story in theaters.
About The Zookeeper’s Wife:
The real-life story of one working wife and mother who became a hero to hundreds during World War II. In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh of “The Broken Circle Breakdown”), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Nazis, Jan and Antonina are stunned – and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl of “Captain America: Civil War”). To fight back on their own terms, Antonina and Jan covertly begin working with the Resistance – and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.
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A huge thanks to Becky from Week 99er for covering this event!