Year after year, stories of what World War II continue to filter into theaters, particularly about the people on the ground. So many everyday people with families and semi-banal jobs were forced into hero and villain roles, as paranoia overwhelmed the world and fear held sway. And accepting the old adage about knowing one’s history, lest it repeat itself, it’s unlikely these stories will cease being told anytime soon.
The Zookeeper’s Wife tells another story from the unsettling early days of the war, when everyday life was suddenly and violently interrupted, through a prism audiences haven’t seen before: the Warsaw Zoo, which came to double as a refuge and smuggling hub for Polish Jews after the German invasion began. Based on the real-life story of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, and Diane Ackerman’s nonfiction book on the same, Niki Caro‘s film follows Antonina (Jessica Chastain) and Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) as they struggle to keep their operation secret from escalating Nazi attention, led by Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl, who just can’t seem to get away from this sort of role).
The film’s first trailer is heavy on the prestige, and illustrates its themes rather bluntly by the end, but the story of the Zabinskis is nevertheless stirring, and could make for quite the film. The Zookeeper’s Wife is currently slated for release on March 31, 2017.