War brews over Warsaw in 1939, and while life is still running its course, the Germans are slowly beginning to make their presence felt, with Hitler secretly preparing for the German invasion of Poland. Under those circumstances, the young couple of Jan and Antonina Zabinski continue their daily routine as owners and keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, but soon, as German Luftwaffe's Stukas hammer the Polish capital, their life's work together with the city, will turn to ashes. However, with the zoo liquidated for the war effort and many of its animals tragically perished, what was once an animals' zoo, will now serve as a sanctuary where Antonina, the humanist veterinarian, and Jan can hide the persecuted Polish Jews in plain sight until safe houses are found. That was Jan and Antonina's formidable, yet perilous plan, who regardless of the consequences, refused to wither before the Nazi menace, took matters into their own hands and sheltered 300 Jews under the Germans' noses.Written by
When the zoo animals are being "liquidated", Heck shoots an eagle and tells his aide to have it stuffed. Sure enough, when Jan and Antonina visit his office later, there is a stuffed eagle prominently displayed, See more »
At 39 min when the pigs are arriving in to the zoo, behind the actors you can clearly see a truck made in the 2000's. See more »
You can never tell who your enemies are, or who to trust. Maybe that's why I love animals so much. You look in their eyes, and you know exactly what's in their hearts. They're not like people.
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Could have skipped the clichés, but the setting is remarkable
On the very positive side, this drama about Jews hidden in the wreckage of the Warsaw Zoo is based on a true story. Right now, when meanness seems to trump acts of charity and compassion, that's an important message. At the same time, there's quite a bit of déjà vu here, as director Niki Caro fails to plow new ground or to "capture the many layers of this unique story, relying instead on plainly-stated metaphors," said Sheila O'Malley on Rogerebert.com and a contrived and unpersuasive relationship between the main character and "Hitler's zookeeper." Antonina and Jan Zabiński really did save more than three hundred Jews after German bombs and stormtroopers destroyed their zoo. They hid the refugees in their own home, changed their appearance, gave them false papers, and spirited them away, under the enemy's noses. See it for the animals, the fine performance by Jessica Chastain as Antonina, and for the reminder that even in extreme circumstances there are people who believe, as Jan Zabiński said many years later, "If you can save somebody's life, it's your duty to try." Supporting performances are strong as well. Written by Angela Workman.
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