"Those Who Fail to Learn from the Past..."
A Review of "The Zookeeper's Wife" by Nathan H. Box
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Bruhl Director: Niki Caro, Writer: Angela Workman (Screenplay)
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME!
I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Holocaust and World War II. As Americans, we justifiably glorify our sacrifice made during the world's greatest war and we use the Holocaust as a line in the sand; something that should never be crossed again. Our movies, television shows, books, and spoken stories are filled with imagery from both. We use them to characterize evil and the decency of human beings. Naturally, this filled me with some arrogance. There were no more stories to hear about this moment in time. "The Zookeeper's Wife" proved me wrong.
It also instilled in me a belief of how important these stories are. We've all heard the phrase, "those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it." As this movie played out before me, I watched Jews huddled into ghettos, robbed of their possessions, and killed without any reason other than anti-Semitism and ignorance. Then I watched with an immense sense of love in my heart, as a local Polish family used their home and the zoo they used to operate as a safe haven for Jewish families. Stories from this period in time have a way of robbing you of your humanity and reinforcing your belief in your fellow man.
As I sat through the anxious moments before the credits rolled, I was instilled with a sense of wonder. What are other stories to tell? What sacrifices did other Europeans make to keep Jews and the marginalized safe? What other unspeakable acts of terror did the Nazis do? After I left the theater, I went and bought a couple of books on the Holocaust and Hitler's rise to power. I know each of these will be gut-wrenching much like several moments throughout this film but I also know we can't just close the book on this point in history. It and the stories it provides must continue to be told in unique and enthralling ways. We must learn from them in an effort to ensure they never happen again.
Be good to each other,