The Zookeeper's Wife

7.02 h 7 min2017PG-13
During World War II, a young Polish couple use their zoo to protect families hiding from the Nazis. Starring Jessica Chastain as Antonina Żabińska.
Niki Caro
Jessica ChastainJohan HeldenberghMichael McElhatton
DramaMilitary and War
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
Daniel Brühl
Jeff AbberleyJamie PatricofDiane Miller LevinKim Zubick
Focus Features
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

2851 global ratings

  1. 81% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 11% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

LizzieWReviewed in the United States on July 26, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Beautiful story about a true hero
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I loved the movie but not the subject, of course. There are scenes in this movie that are extremely difficult to watch but I forced myself and during one scene when the nazi shot the baby camel, Adam, I actually screamed " what! What are you doing!!!!?" and I have never shouted out loud in a movie in my entire life. Thankfully, those scenes were short and in the beginning of the movie but later, the scene of the children reaching for someone to lift them on the train to Auschwitz killed me. Even recalling that scene sends me to tears. But, it is necessary to feel that kind of pain so that we can all appreciate just how horrific and evil the holocaust was. Many Jews were shot without any warning- just like the scene where the animals were shot. The director wanted us to feel that shock, that kind of fear and desperation. I thought about how difficult it was for me to watch in a movie and what it must have been like in real life. I can only imagine. I don't know if I would have had the strength to endure such without losing my mind.
Historically speaking, this is a film everyone should watch. It's a film about a very painful truth about mankind and how easily very bad things happen to good trusting people when they aren't questioning authority. Beware, history always repeats because angry evil people seeking power and authority always exist among us.
48 people found this helpful
K. A. T.Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
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I only got through about 60% of this because I had forgotten it was one I had paid to rent, rather than just watching on Prime, and my rental expired before I finished watching (in other words, I thought I had all the time in the world to finish it.)

Obviously, I can't review the movie as a whole. That being said, the performances were quite good and the tension level was kept relatively high in that it really captured what must have been the level of stress and uncertainty even for non-Jews at the time (of course, it was 100x worse for the Jewish people, but it was still more than bad enough for the everyone else who wasn't a true believer in the Nazi mission. I suspect I willl rent it again to finish was definitely keeping my interest enough that I'd like to see the end, even if it means paying again.

However, HOWEVER, I do have one complaint, not necessarily about the film itself, but about the way it is being promoted. It really needs to come with a strong, and unmissable, warning that the movie contains many scenes of animals suffering, in pain, in fear, and dying, sometimes as a result of the deliberate, intentional acts of the Nazis. (SLIGHT SPOILER: Just to clarify, the initial bombings killed out many of the animals, but hitting the zoo was, as I understand it, not an intentional act, not that that fact lessened the animals' suffering any).

Now, to those who say that my real concern should be the suffering of the humans, and in particular to those who say my real concern should the suffering of the Jewish people, I can only say the following: You have a point, and I absolutely hear what you are saying. But it is unusual these days to see such overt and protracted violence against animals, and so many animals, portrayed as vividly as it is in this film. Many filmakers, understandably so, show at most only an indirect and very brief shot of an animal in pain. For those of us that are wired with a particular sensitivity to the welfare of animals, even that can be heartwrenching. While I knew this film would include the death of animals, I had NO warning that it would be as bad as it was.

For better or worse (and I think most of us would say worse), violence against humans has become the norm in films, and it doesn't surprise us. In general terms, we expect it. But even though the overriding plot was about the decimation and murder of the Jewish people, the part of the film I got through concentrated on the slaughter of animals. Given that, I really do believe that this film merits an extra, and overt, warning, for the benefit of those of us that are particularly sensitive to animal suffering.

I can't in good conscience give this film less than four stars, however, because what I am really criticizing is the lack of warning about violence against animals that should have been shown before the film started, and, as I said earlier on, this film certainly worked well for me on every other level.
37 people found this helpful
DavidsgirlReviewed in the United States on July 29, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Phenomenal Film! Gorgeous and Well Executed! But Should Have an "R" Rating.
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This is absolutely an amazing movie! It is gorgeous, well executed, and the acting is phenomenal. I offer rave applause to Jessica Chastain. She nailed it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, although many parts were particularly hard to watch, which is to be expected for a WWII movie about the Holocaust. So be prepared. I found the storyline very engaging and the characters were thoroughly developed throughout. I loved the relationships that formed. Despite the trauma, there was also a lot of healing. The story did not dumb down the pain, yet there was plenty of tenderness and love. Therefore, the emotional flow was very well balanced, which is so necessary for a film with this kind of inherent trauma. The scenes with the animals were beautiful! Overall, it's a very satisfying film with a lot of depth, and certainly not one you will soon forget. It has lasting impact. Although a horrific story -- which happens to be true, it has a happy ending that offers relief.

The only negative comment I would like to make is specific to the rating. I believe this movie should be rated "R" for the graphic violence and sexual content. There are some love scenes which are tastefully done, but they are mature. There is also two scenes of rape, one which is very suggestive and involves a child. Although the nudity is not overt, there is a lot of skin. For me, the violence was extraordinarily difficult to watch, even as a grown adult who is an avid history lover and well-educated about WWII. This is not a soft story, and I am obviously not alone in that opinion. The content is wholly mature and at times graphic in nature, which can be expected for a movie such as this one, given the true story it is attempting to retell. They have maintained integrity toward that end. So that content is indeed appropriate for the storyline, but I do not believe it is fit for a young teen. With that said, I have chosen not diminish my five-star rating, as the movie is truly phenomenal in quality. It is wholly deserving of five stars. Nevertheless, it genuinely needs an "R" rating. I hope my review helps to guide parents with discretion. I would strongly recommend watching it first before subjecting teens to this content. As for children -- it would never be appropriate.

Closing note: If you are a mature adult who is well-adjusted, who loves history, and would like to enjoy a true story with depth and breadth that is beautifully executed -- you will LOVE this film!
19 people found this helpful
D. RobertsReviewed in the United States on July 12, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Heroism takes on many forms
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Arguably, WWII demonstrated more forms of heroism than any other war before or since. The British mathematician Alan Turing broke the ENIGMA code. J Robert Oppenheimer led the MANHATTAN PROJECT & it brought a swift conclusion to the war with Japan. While it was @ a horrendous cost for the Japanese, it could be argued that both sides would have suffered even more had the war been extended.

The military enjoyed the leadership of people with names such as Eisenhower, Nimitz & Patton. The allies had strong politicians (these days a contradiction in terms?) in the likes of Winston Churchill and FDR. Countless enlisted soldiers such as Audie Murphy performed heroic deed after heroic deed to defeat the Nazis.

Beyond all of the above, there was another, more subtle form of heroism: those who helped Jews who were being persecuted & hunted down by the Nazis. This group consisted of many "everyday" people. It even consisted of some Nazis who betrayed the 3rd Reich & did everything they could to help as many Jews as they could (and no, I'm not kidding!).

The present story is about 2 everyday people: a zookeeper & his wife who were forced to "play nice" with the Nazis while simultaneously using their zoo to hide myriad Jews on a sort of Polish "underground railroad" out of harm's way.

Jessica Chastain played a tough-as-nails CIA operative in ZERO DARK THIRTY. She also portrayed a take-charge astronaut who commanded a mission to Mars in THE MARTIAN. Her role in this film is entirely different from those two. She is the wife of a zookeeper & her #1 character trait is her empathy for those who are being persecuted. Like her other roles, she pulls it off ~ brilliantly.

Like SCHINDLER'S LIST, this movie is based on a true story. As common sense has gone out the window lately while ignorant politicians trivialize what happened during the Holocaust, this film is all the more important for us to stare down the truth ~ as heart-wrenching as that may be.
One person found this helpful
PaleMoon4Reviewed in the United States on June 27, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the best real true movies I have seen in a long time.
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This movie needs at a bare minimum of one full box of Kleenexs because you will shed alot of tears. It is one of the best movies I have watch in an amazing long period of time. It is a true story and they made it so real that you feel like your right there too. It has so much emotional mix in it and it is no wonder because it is a very volatile time in history. The war was so horrific and sad. I will never truly understand what they gained out of that war except to murder a slew of precious human beings, animals and destroyed so much property and for what? Nothing was gained but a whole lot of waste. God forbids these action and they will have to one day account for all they did. But the fact is is that it is a very real and true story and I hope it makes people think we never want that kind of destruction here in America let alone anywhere else. I think 9-11 was enough to last us a lifetime. I give this true story a 10 star rating because it truly is what really happened there. Truly a movie that tears at your heartstrings!
One person found this helpful
RescuepetsruleReviewed in the United States on December 27, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
SKIP the scenes where animals are bombed and shot!!!
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My name will tell you my main passion: rescuing animals that suffer at the hands of lowlife subhumans. I skipped the bombing scenes and the shooting of animals and it took nothing away from the plot. As you can see, Germans are much lower than animals. As a Marine, I heard an old Veteran say that the only thing that separates us from animals is that we have the ability to kill from a distance, which the Germans did with joy here. What possible benefit was there to bomb caged animals? None. Hitler knew the infamous "German mentality" well, so he used it to turn some vicious killers loose on Europe. The Polish are no better, and they killed Jews even before and after the war.
The cute touch at the movie's end, where she is painting the Star of David everywhere was a useless endeavor, since there would be very few Jews alive that were dumb enough to go back to Poland. Poland has never had prosperity without the Jews- it's what they get for killing their most industrious and intelligent citizens.
This was a good movie, though, and if there had been more people as strong as the Zookeeper and his wife, the Nazis would have had to devote many more men from the front lines to manage the killing and invasions. SALUTE heroes!
One person found this helpful
Sarah DishonghReviewed in the United States on March 29, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great piece of WWII history, captivating and engaging!
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This is a GREAT movie! I don’t watch movies all the time (no attention span), but I have watched this one twice and will soon watch it a third time when I make another friend watch it! It has such strong characters and storytelling. Of course, there are all the animals who have personalities - enough to know and care about them individually but not at all cartoonish. Finally, it breathes life into WWII history in Poland in the best way with historical facts and their impact on families and ordinary citizens in that horrific time. Cannot recommend highly enough, no drawbacks from me!
One person found this helpful
RoxyReviewed in the United States on September 4, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I love this movie it is worth it to buy it on Blu-ray. We rented it and now we will be buying it. Being able to rent it through Amazon video allowed us to watch it and enjoy it as we wanted. We even had the rest of the household watch it the next day. It is very historically correct and isn't it an amazing Tale people coming together and working out ways to help. There's also a very sad Tale because you know what was going on in Germany during that timeframe. There was times when you need tissues.
3 people found this helpful
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