FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE APRIL 7, 2017
THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE (A True Story)
GATEWAY THEATRE 7 PM – Meet inside lobby
Contact John Ramos at Jramos4000@aol.com with movie ideas.
Group can go out to eat/drink together after the show.
Antonina (Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh) are the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, one of the largest and most prolific zoos in 1930s Europe. In the calm of September 1939, Antonina, opens the gates of Miejski Ogród Zoologiczny as a crowd has already gathered to view the many species on display in the zoo. Her husband Jan has only recently been appointed the director of the Warsaw Zoo and faces the scornful, yet envious advances of Dr.Lutz Heck(Daniel Brühl), the head of the Berlin Zoo as “Hitler’s zoologist”.
On September 1, 1939, Antonina and her son Ryszard (Timothy Radford and later, Val Maloku) are shocked witnesses to the aerial bombardment of Warsaw as German forces storm Poland. The Zoo is not to be spared and bombs raze the cages and kill many of the animals. As Polish resistance collapses under overwhelming odds, Dr. Heck arrives at the zoo, beseeching Antonia to let him save the “prize” specimens, which she reluctantly grants, but then learns that his motives are suspect. With the onset of winter, Heck again appears, this time, to slaughter all the remaining caged animals, which he declares is an act of kindness as they would surely die in the cold. Heck, however, takes a certain delight in shooting an eagle himself, then casually telling an aide to have it stuffed.
Warsaw becomes the scene of a monstrous upheaval with Jews first identified and their stores and shops looted. Wearing the dreaded Star of David armbands, two of the Zabrinski’s friends, Maurycy Franekel (Iddo Goldberg) and his wife Magda (Efrat Dor) seek a haven not for themselves, but for an insect collection that was Franekel’s life’s work. Antonina makes an unusual offer to shelter Magda in an attic closet. Jan and his wife take stock of what defiance of the Nazis would mean, but come to the realization that they can save one life.
With the zoo to be closed permanently, Jan and Antonia seek out Heck who has now set up headquarters in Warsaw for his groundbreaking research in animal breeding. The Zabrinskis make a daring proposal to turn the remaining structures into a pig farm to ultimately provide food for the occupying forces. Intrigued, Heck is also looking for a home for his diabolical experiments on recreating ancient beasts.[Note 3]
The Zabrinskis devise an elaborate plan to spirit away Jews from theWarsaw Ghetto, even as it is being devastatedby a relentless, murderous Nazi juggernaut. Snatching children and adults from the ghetto, over 300 “guests” inhabit the Zabrinski’s home on their way to freedom, with new identification papers and sometimes, even a wig and a makeover to fool the Nazis.