There have been understandably thousands of movies made about World War 2, mainly because it is the most compelling and most important story in human history. World War 2 is a 6 year period of human history that was easily the worst in terms of the destruction of so many cities and the death of so many hundreds of millions of people. World War 2 demonstrated the worst that humanity has ever shown and that there is no measurable lower limit to the atrocities people can inflict on other people. One could probably argue that of all the many thousands of World War 2 movies, that “The Zookeepers Wife” is the first film that involves the owners of a Zoo in Warsaw Poland; Jan and Antonina Zabinski, played by Jessica Chastain. Just like the rest of Poland on September 1, 1939, the Warsaw Zoo was bombed during the German invasion. I thought that during this invasion, this film did a very good job at showing the injuries and death of some of the animals while not actually showing the actual killing in any sort of gory or unnecessary detail. Animals just like all life during this time had to pay a price for the worst time in human history.
Where this movie fails is that it was not different enough or unique enough for me to be that memorable. While this is a true story, we have all seen the War movies where people are being hidden from the Germans and rescued from certain death and evil German officers who indiscriminately kill people and as in this movie, even innocent animals in a Zoo. There are also problems with continuity where Antonina is suddenly giving birth and we never even knew that she was pregnant, almost as if a major mistake was made while film editing. This also happens in few other areas of the film, although not as glaring as this obvious error. There is another Zookeeper from Berlin, who eventually becomes the German officer and villain in this story, but he is not nearly as bad as so many evil German officers have been in so many other World War 2 movies. I thought that this was another problem with this film because there was not enough conflict with the Zookeeper’s wife and her husband and this German officer, that might have made the story more memorable.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty average and run of the mill World War 2 movie so I only give it a very mild recommendation.