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The Zookeeper's Wife (2017)

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In 2 theaters near Ashburn VA US [change]

The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Magda Gross
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Maurycy Fraenkel
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Urszula
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Jerzyk
Val Maloku ...
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Regina Kenigswein
Daniel Ratimorský ...
Samuel Kenigswein
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Miecio Kenigswein
Theo Preston ...
Stanislav Kenigswein
Viktoria Zakharyanova ...
Stefania Keningswein
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Mr. Kinszerbaum
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Storyline

The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They gave all they had to save all they could See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, violence, brief sexuality, nudity and smoking | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

7 April 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Zookeeper's Wife  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,288,835 (USA) (31 March 2017)

Gross:

$16,839,076 (USA) (19 May 2017)
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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The book was published in 2007. On February 10, 2008, the book was number 13 on The New York Times non-fiction best seller list. See more »

Quotes

Antonina Zabinski: We have room... we could hide Magda there.
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User Reviews

 
Well-intended, but too inconsistent
2 April 2017 | by (Cincinnati) – See all my reviews

"The Zookeeper's Wife" (2017 release from Poland; 124 min.) brings the story of Antonina and her husband Jan. As the movie opens, Antonina is waking up, and sees her young song sleeping with a pet (a lamb?). She then opens the gates of the zoo, as we are told it is "Warsaw, Summer of 1939". We learn that Antonina and Jan are the caretakers of the zoo, where it seems the animals are at peace (and some of them even roaming freely). But then comes "September 1, 1939", and it's not long before the Germans have occupied Poland. As Jan and Antonina see their once idyllic life ends. They now face even greater dangers when they decide to hide a Jew on their zoo compound. At this point we are 15 min, into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from New Zealand director Niki Caro, best known for directing "McFarland, USA" and before that "Whale Rider". Here she brings to the big screen the book of the same name by Diane Ackerman. Let's get this out of the way: at the end of the movie, we learn what becomes of the main characters in the years following WWII. I had no idea while I was watching the movie that this is in fact a true story (surely embellished somewhat for entertainment purposes). With 20/20 hindsight that this is based on true events, I've become a bit milder in my judgment of the movie, although it is still miles away from a top notch movie. The problem is that it mostly feels quite distant and unattached. We SHOULD care for these characters, as they go though some horrific things, but for the most part I just watched without further emotional involvement (there are exceptions of course--such as the very last scene of the movie, which made me well up). Jessica Chastain plays Antonina, with Polish accent and all. This could in style be further away that the tough as nails role she played in "Zero Down Thirty" but in the end these two roles each bring a strong heroine. Comments Antonina to one of the kids in hiding: "After a life in hiding, you don't know how to trust. Maybe that's why I love animals so much", wow. Belgian actor Johan Heldenbergh plays Jan in the biggest role of his career. Bottom line: the movie is obviously well-intended, and I'm always ready to support a movie about heroic deeds in WWII. What Antonina and Jan did in real life, is more than heroic, and for that we must be eternally grateful. It's just that the movie doesn't deliver at that same level, and feels way too safe and by-the-numbers. A darn shame.

"The Zookeeper's Wife opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The early Sunday evening screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely, I am happy to report. That said, I don't thing the movie will have long legs at the box office, once word-of-mouth gets out that this is just okay, but not more than that. It might be worth checking out when it comes to Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.


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