When I saw the trailer of The Zookeepers Wife a few months ago before seeing Fences, I was oddly intrigued. Oddly because I’m usually only into romcoms and mancoms (manly comedies–I totally just made that up). When I got invited to see the film I jumped at the chance because there is something about “based on a true story” films that pretty much get me every time.The things that I absolutely adored about the @Zookeepers movie! #TheZookeepersWife
I’m not going to giveaway the movie, however, I highly recommend it. It is extremely well done. I may or may not have been clutching my imaginary pearls the entire movie.
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 Germans, 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.
Here are three reasons why you need to see The Zookeepers Wife.
The animals: I am not an animal person–at all. However the wide range of animals that are in this film was just visually so gorgeous. Jessica Chastain’s character has this incredible connection to the animals that makes you instantly fall in love with them too. There was a particular scene early in the movie that was so moving that tears of relief sprung to my eyes. I was shocked at my own reaction.
The fashion: I know. This movie is a very serious movie based on the real life story of Zookeepers that freed Jewish people from nazi captivity. However can we take a moment for the fashion? Jessica Chastain’s character was SO STUNNING. From the beautiful dresses to even the sleepwear was SO good. I pretty much want it all for my closet now–apparently I have the style sense of a woman from the 1930s and I’m ok with this!
The community: even though the prisoners were going through so much and all hell was breaks out around them, they were able to create a community that cared for one another in the most amazing ways. They cooked for one another, sang for one another and still managed to find their happy through it all.
Afterwards we were able to interview Film director Niki Caro and Jessica Chastain.
Here is what she said when asked what it was like to play such a powerful role:
For me, I think by starting to learn about Antonina, and by reading The Zookeeper’s Wife, you feel like you know her, because you hear her words; you read her words. That was very helpful for me. And there was a quality that she had, where she would – not disappear, but she would put the caring of others ahead of herself. I mean, she wasn’t out there saying, like, “This is what I did. I’m a hero.” You know. For her, it was all about others – I mean – animals, or people, or whatever it was, in terms of healing – which actually is inherently – when I think of my mother, that’s what I think of. I was raised by a single woman.
My, you know, my grandmother raised her family, and my mother raised three kids. And I am where I am today because of the sacrifices they made. So it wasn’t hard for me to find examples of a woman who – not sacrifices herself, but in a way, gives of – gives herself to others. And also, what I loved about Antonina is in this – you know, when everybody talks about Holocaust films – when you think of what we’ve had – we’ve really seen the darkness, and the hate, and the murder. But rarely do we see the light. And with people like Antonina, it’s important to celebrate that lightness. So that’s – that helped me get through it, too.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is a powerful film from start to end. It is educational, heart warming and incredibly moving. I highly recommend you see it, and let me know what you think when you do so we can discuss!