“The Zookeeper’s Wife”: A Short Review


A couple of Fridays ago, I posted some information on a new film that was out, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” (see here), and this past Saturday my wife and I went to the theater to see it. Here’s a short review:

The Zookeepers Wife
Directed by Nick Caro and featuring Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, and Daniel Bruhl
Focus Features, 2017, 126 minutes

Plot (Spoiler alert!)

Dr. Jan Zabinski (Heldenbergh) and his wife, Antonina (Chastain), are the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo in Poland in 1939. Germany invades Western Poland on September 1st and the Nazi authorities take direct control of the zoo. The more-valuable animals are shipped to Berlin while those left behind are shot. Jan convinces the German overseer, Dr. Heck (Bruhl), to preserve the zoo as a breeding facility for pigs. The Nazis quarantine all Jews in the area to the Warsaw ghetto, which Jan visits regularly to obtain scraps for the pigs while also managing to smuggle Jews back to the zoo where they are hidden. Heck has a bit of a crush on Antonina and she accepts his personal advances in an effort to win his confidence and allay his suspicions.

The Nazis deport all of the Jews living in the ghetto to extermination camps in 1942-43 and Jan is wounded in the uprising of the Polish underground army in 1944. Antonina visits Heck and pleads for information about her husband but instead the Nazi official finally becomes convinced that the Zabinskis are harboring Jews. Antonina rushes back to the zoo, helping the Jews to escape. Heck arrives with his men, surveying the Jews’ former hiding places, but decides to show clemency to Antonina and her son. As Soviet forces advance into Warsaw, Antonina flees with other refugees but eventually returns back to the zoo where she is reunited with some of the surviving Jews and Jan.


This is an excellent movie and I highly recommend it. My wife wanted to leave during the early scenes when the Nazis were killing the zoo’s animals but I talked her out of it and she was glad I did. Jessica Chastain is excellent. The Zabinskis as well as thousands of other rescuers showed great courage and compassion in harboring Jews during the Holocaust. In reality some Poles were antagonistic towards the Jews but this myth-defying truth was avoided in the film.

Additional thoughts from a believer

Many will watch a movie like this and wonder how the Nazis could have been so inhumane? “I could never be a part of something like that,” they will claim. But God’s Word rightly says we are all sinners and we are all capable of the vilest of thoughts and behaviors.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders” – Mark 7:21

We all need to come to Jesus Christ and accept Him as our Savior by faith alone. All of us are guilty and deserve eternal punishment. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me from the eternity of hell that I deserve.


3 thoughts on ““The Zookeeper’s Wife”: A Short Review

  1. Good review. Wow I didn’t know the movie was that deep I totally judged the movie wrong from the title. I thought you also brought up a good point about the sinfulness of human hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jim. I enjoyed it very much although I had to hold back the tears several times. Yes, the majority of people would say, “If anyone is in hell for sure it’s Hitler and his Nazi henchmen. While I’m not perfect I’m obviously much more decent than Hitler so God should allow me into Heaven.”


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