The work of composer Harry Gregson-Williams has spanned everything from the sci-fi thrills of “The Martian” to the gritty crime saga of “The Town” to the superhero spectacle of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” However, his latest work in “The Zookeeper’s Wife” allows the composer to highlight a different side to his array of talents.
Starring Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh and Daniel Brühl, and directed by Niki Caro, the story takes place in 1939 Poland, where Antonina Żabińska and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński run the flourishing Warsaw Zoo. When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned, but decide to fight back by covertly begin working with the Resistance and saving the lives of those in the Warsaw Ghetto by hiding them at their zoo. But as you’ll see in this scene from the film, the decision by Jan and Antonina to put their lives at risk isn’t an easy one. For Gregson-Williams, the film allowed him to capture the sensitivity of the characters, and the unique landscape of the setting.
“Working with Niki Caro was both rewarding and invigorating because she continually urged me to play against the emotional landscape of the film. She wanted to celebrate the beauty and playfulness of the zoo, even in some of its darkest moments,” he explained. “Woodwinds, piano, and vocals have a strong voice in this score, as I felt that they best communicated the tenderness of Antonina Żabińska and the fragility and uncertainty of war-torn Poland. I tried to design a delicate color palette to ensure that the music didn’t overpower the emotional delicacy of the story and to further convey a sense of intimacy.”
“The Zookeeper’s Wife” opens on March 31st and the soundtrack will be available digitally the same day. The CD will be released on June 9th. Listen to the exclusive track, “Warsaw Zoo, 1939” below.