We had some free time on the 4th of July and a free rental so we picked up The Zookeeper’s Wife. While I knew the story behind the movie, I expected a few more scenes like the one above which was the opening scene. There were not too many more. In fact, a good number of the “animal scenes” were sad and in some cases, shocking.
The movie tells the story, based on the lives of Antonina and Jan Zabinski who were keepers of the Warsaw zoo. When the Germans invaded Warsaw, most of the “pure-blooded” animals were shipped off as part of the Nazi breeding program to produce a superior species. The remaining “inferior” animals were simply shot. This included a young camel by the name of Adam who endeared himself to you within the first 5 minutes of the movie as he ran and ran the zoo grounds faithfully following Antonina.
As the animals disappeared or were killed, I wondered why–why the cruelty and why the heartless actions?
The story continues as the Zabinski’s open the zoo to hide Jews who were being rounded up by the Germans. Over a span of about 6 years, they were able to hide and eventually help about 300 men, women and children escape to freedom. A far greater number of Jews living in Warsaw were moved by the Germans into a ghetto, fenced off area of the city. The time came when this group of people were to be transported to one of the camps of which we know so much.
Then came scenes that, as a parent and grandparent ripped my heart out. This picture shows the children lined up to be put on the train cars in the background. Jan Zabinski can be seen pointing the older man to a way he could escape.
As the movie progressed to the next scene, child after child was seen reaching to Jan for help. But this was not help to escape, but rather help to be lifted into the box cars of the train. The expression on Jan’s face was one of helplessness and horror and sadness over the recognition of what he was doing. He was helping the children–helping them to their deaths. And again I asked why–and that seemed to open a whole lot of whys for me.
Why was there ever a time in our world when one group could decide who was good enough to live? Why are there still ways to end lives due to inconvenience or a choice or a right? Why does the death of a baby animal get more coverage in the news than the daily shootings of children? Why do humans think they are the pinnacle of knowledge and good in the world, when the mistakes we make and the problems caused just continue to mount? Why does fame and fortune make a person a role model? Why is the telling of violence and sexual abuse and law-breaking accepted and passed off as entertainment?
But those “whys” are too easy to ask. Tougher ones are why did I choose to drink and drink and drink and then wonder why I became an alcoholic? Why do I continue to do things the same way and think they will turn out differently this time? Why can I find myself looking out for only what I want and ignore the needs of others, including my loved ones? Why do I have to try to fix things myself, when both figuratively and literally my most often used tools are a hammer and duct tape?
The real answer is sin. We are told in Romans, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I can choose to defend my sin, “I know I shouldn’t have been speeding but I was late. . .”. Or I can minimize it, “I guess it was just a mistake.” I can compare myself, “At least I am not like him.” Or even deny it is sin, “That Bible stuff is out of date so do not judge what I do.”
There is only one solution for the sin in my life and the death that comes along with it. In 1 Corinthians 15:57 I read “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus paid for the sin in my life and those of everyone else. Faith in that Truth saves me. That is good news.
But how many of those children being lifted into the box car knew Jesus as their Savior? I do not know. What I do know is all the “whys” I asked before are negative parts of this world. They are caused by sin. And they will be things I need to contend with as long as I am alive. The more important “why” with which I need to contend is why I do not reach out to all those people who do not know Jesus. If their problem is sin, they too need to know their Savior.
Why do bad things happen? Sin. Why don’t more of the unbelievers in my life know about their Savior? My sinful excuses. Why did we watch a movie about a complete lack of freedom on Independence Day, when we celebrate the beginning of freedom in our country? I guess God had a different agenda for me besides entertainment.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is a good movie and I would encourage anyone to take the time to watch it. I was moved and shocked and convicted by what I saw. I did not tell you anymore than a review would. Maybe from just a different perspective.
C’mon back. I will hold off on any more movie reviews, at least for a while.
I will wait you.