During the second world war, unimaginable ignominies have been committed. It was the most atrocious time but in the chaos, extraordinary stories still manage to emerge. The Zookeeper’s Wife is one of those inspiring tales. Beautiful and heartwarming but also terrifying at times, you won’t regret the journey.
Could you advert your eyes in the face of death and injustice?
Poland, 1939. Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Dr. Jan Zabinski own the Warsaw zoo. Under their care, it has been flourishing. Antonina especially, treats each animal as a friend. However, soon war arrives at their door and when the Nazis invade the country, things turn terribly bloody. Bombs are dropped and precious species are lost. There is nothing they can do. One word from Lutz Heck, Hitler’s chief zoologist and their life ends. They watch as the animals die but can they watch humans being raped, starved and murdered?
Antonina Zabinski: You can never tell who your enemies are, or who to trust. Maybe that’s why I love animals so much. You look in their eyes, and you know exactly what’s in their hearts. They’re not like people.
Could you attempt to save a life if it meant risking your own?
The zookeeper’s wife is a true story. This family actually existed and their courage is astonishing. It must have been terrible for them. They lived in constant terror. The film really captured that fright. It is an amazing movie only made better by the choice of actors. Jessica Chastain in particular delivers an astounding performance.
Jan Zabinski: I was raised with these people. Gentile, Jewish. It didn’t matter to my family. It never mattered to me.
Ultimately, this movie is a delight to watch because it is about love and tolerance. It reenacts acts of bravery. People did extraordinary things during one of the darkest times in history.