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Film / The Zookeeper's Wife

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A 2017 War Drama directed by Niki Caro and staring Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh as a couple hiding hundreds of Polish Jews during World War II.

The film also stars Daniel Brühl, Michael McElhatton, Iddo Goldberg, and Efrat Dor.

It was released on March 8, 2017 in Warsaw, March 31, 2017 in the US, and April 21, 2017 in the UK.

Tropes for the film:

  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The German soldiers laugh as they gun down terrified zoo animals.
  • Earthy Barefoot Character: Antonina sensibly doffs her heels when it comes to hands-on work with the animals.
  • Fanservice: Some tasteful nudity courtesy of Jessica Chastain.
  • The Film of the Book: Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Diane Ackerman.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Antonina has a way with animals, including large and dangerous ones like elephants. This is contrasted with Heck's more brutal and controlling approach.
  • Happily Married: Jan and Antonina are shown to have a very loving and stable relationship overall, though marital conflicts do arise.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Antonina and Jan Zabinska, zookeepers who hid Jewish people from getting taken by the Nazis.
    • Lutz Heck, A German zoologist who works to resurrect extinct animals like aurochs and tries to keep the family under his thumb.
  • Kick the Dog: The unnecessary killing of the remaining zoo animals by the German soldiers. Unnecessary because the excuse given is that they won't survive the winter but the animals in question (a Bactrian camel and a Bald eagle) are perfectly capable of surviving in cold climates.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Subverted when Antonina is shown lying naked in bed with Jan after making love. Her breasts are mostly covered with a sheet but she makes no attempt to hide them from her husband/the audience as she shifts her body.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Heck forces Antonina onto a bed but stops when she tells him he disgusts her.
  • Period Piece: Set during WWII during the German occupation of Poland from September 1939 to the Nazi surrender.
  • Rape as Drama: Urszula's arc begins with her being raped by German soldiers. The act itself is not shown but the gruesome aftermath is.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: When Heck finds out that Antonia has been hiding Jewish refugees and doesn't return his romantic feelings, he nearly kills her son for revenge, but ultimately can't go through with it.