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The Zookeeper's Wife - Film Review

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by Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg (subscribe)
Freelance writer and photographer with an interest in science communication. Always looking for new experiences and discoveries!
Published April 27th 2017
One woman became a hero to hundreds
The Zookeeper's Wife tells the true story of Antonina Żabińska and her husband Jan Żabińska (Johan Heldenbergh), zookeeper at the flourishing Warsaw Zoo at the time of the Nazi invasion in 1939.

There are plenty of films out there about this period but this film offers a new perspective. Director Niki Caro has deliberately focused on the emotional and visual aspects of this story, centred firmly on Antonina Żabińska (Jessica Chastain).

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Still from The Zookeepers Wife

The couple saved hundreds of people (and animals) during the invasion, putting their own lives at great risk. This is one of the great drawcards of this story, yet strangely it doesn't seem to be captured in much detail or suspense in the movie.

While the Nazi invasion feels a little glossed over, Antonina's maternal and tender love of the animals is a big focus of the film and here it delivers on the vision of presenting a new perspective of the period. As she says in the film "maybe that's why I love animals so much you look in their eyes and you know exactly what's in their hearts".

The visuals in The Zookeepers Wife are stunning and this makes it a treat to watch. Chastain embodies her character, and the era, with absolute poise and perfection. You can catch the movie at Luna Windsor and Cinema Paradiso from Thursday May 4. Watch the trailer:

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*Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg was invited as a guest
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Why? Based on a true story
When: From May 4 2017
Where: In selected cinemas
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