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A Tradition of Looking Behind the Curtain
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 Post subject: The Zookeeper's Wife.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:25 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:45 am
Posts: 3576
Location: Toronto
Jessica Chastain plays the wife of the head zookeeper of the Warsaw Zoo. Bombed by the Germans, the zoo has its best surviving specimens taken away and the rest shot. The zookeeper comes up with a plan to raise pigs for the German army fed on compost from the Warsaw Ghetto. This is really a cover for the zookeeper's actual plan which is to smuggle people out of the Ghetto. In the end he saves 300 people with only two getting discovered and killed. Chastain plays the zookeeper's wife....

A subplot developed in the story is the Nazi's plan to recreate aurochs. Aurochs were wild woodland oxen that became extinct about 390 years ago. The last one were seen and shot in Poland. The German (evil Nazi SS officer) zoologist plans to breed an aurochs like creature from living relatives to fill the ecological niche.

The movie shows how the Germans destroyed Warsaw but does not let the Soviets off the hook, but only in a footnote at the end. It would have added something for me if they had worked in how the Soviets stood by while the Germans crushed the uprising. Strangely the movie makes no mention of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, saying the Germans were simply burning the Ghetto and any remaining confused and victim-like Jews. At one point the zookeeper is almost caught by a sonderkommando but I think I was probably the only one in the theatre who understood who and what he was.

We enjoyed the movie. It was somewhat hackneyed: Jews being bullied, looking confused and victim-like; heroic Polish people doing the right think; and stereotypical German/Nazi/SS thugs. It would have been somewhat interesting to see how the debonair cultured German zoologist became a stereotype in a pantomime.

One odd aspect of the movie was that a platoon of German soldiers came to the Zoo daily throughout the six year occupation to garrison the grounds for no apparent reason. I guess this was one aspect that made the story only based on a true story.

I recently read an article about aurochs and how they are being targeted for de-extinction using recovered genetic material and extant relatives and the historical efforts by the Nazis . I found the reference in the movie somewhat serendipitous.

Winter is coming.

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