Title: The Zookeeper’s Wife
Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Brühl, Timothy Radford, Efrat Dor, Iddo Goldberg, Shira Haas, Michael McElhatto.
Those who were moved by ‘Schindler’s List’ will be touched by the story of Antonina Zabinski. ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ is a film written (Angela Workman) and directed (Niki Caro) by women, about an unheralded female heroine, who was ignored by history. The film is a tale about the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.
The strength of character of the protagonist is divinely portrayed by Jessica Chastain, who embodies her gentle manner, along with the Polish’s woman strength of character in saving lives. Cinema has collected a number of films, fictionalized or inspired by true stories, about the silent heroes who rescued the victims of the Nazi persecution. But what distinguishes this flick from the rest is that it is also an intimate family account. It is the chronicle of a husband (Johan Heldenbergh) and wife, their child (Timothy Radford/Val Maloku) and their work. We get to peek into their everyday life, amidst the war and the cocky presence of the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl).
The entire cast performs with an accent and, despite this choice could have run the risk of being annihilated by stereotype, it provides a further nuance of veracity to the raw performance of all the actors. Niki Caro has staunchly lead her cast and crew in a remarkable adaptation of the book by Diane Ackerman.
As producer Diane Miller Levin (another woman on the production team!), highlighted: “This story celebrates life in all forms.” The spirit of all living things is truly valued in a time of destruction, which perpetually seems to be the leitmotiv of human history.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi