One Life: A Film That Leaves a Powerful Impact

"One Life" reveals the extraordinary story of Nicky Winton, portrayed earnestly by Anthony Hopkins, who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Holocaust and is known as Britain's Schindler

by Sededin Dedovic
One Life: A Film That Leaves a Powerful Impact
© Transmission Films / YOutube channel

In the realm of film narratives, where stories of heroism and humanity intersect, "One Life" emerges as a moving testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Directed by veteran TV director James Hawes, in his feature debut, and brought to life by the legendary Anthony Hopkins, this movie goes beyond mere entertainment to offer a deeply moving account of real-life events, it contains a powerful message and you need to be very focused while watching this movie .

Set against the backdrop of historical turmoil, "One Life" reveals the remarkable story of Nicky Winton, portrayed earnestly by Hopkins, a man whose memory remains as sharp as ever despite his advanced years. As the film opens in 1987, we are introduced to Winton, an octogenarian whose wealthy existence is contrasted with his disdain for Margaret Thatcher's conservative policies.

Through the prism of his memories, prompted by a radio broadcast about refugees from Sri Lanka, Winton reflects on a pivotal moment almost half a century earlier, when he found himself in Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II.

One Life© Transmission Films / YOutube channel

The year is 1938, and a young London broker, played by Johnny Flynn, embodies the youthful idealism of Winton's past. What was supposed to be Christmas skiing in Switzerland takes an unexpected turn when Winton finds himself in Prague, just after the Nazis annexed the Sudetenland.

It is a time when the West is still appeasing Hitler, hoping to prevent further conflict, but Winton sees the impending humanitarian disaster and decides to take action.

One Life© Transmission Films / Youtube channel

With a small cadre of dedicated collaborators, Winton launches a daring rescue mission to evacuate Jewish and other children from Czechoslovakia.

Amid bureaucratic hurdles and diplomatic entanglements, he orchestrates an undercover operation, collects donations, secures foster families and navigates the labyrinthine corridors of government offices to obtain visas and permits.

As "One Life" unfolds, its narrative echoes the heroic efforts of Oskar Schindler during the Holocaust. Yet unlike Schindler, whose deeds are immortalized and celebrated, Winton struggles with lingering feelings of self-doubt and regret.

Nicholas Winton was a British stockbroker who helped save Jewish children from the Nazis during the Holocaust. On one of his trips to what was then Czechoslovakia, Winton made a list of Jewish children to be saved. He moved them to Great Britain where he then made sure they found homes.

In total, he saved 669 children. In his twilight years, he questions the propriety of his actions, haunted by the fate of the children he could not save and the passage of time that threatens to obliterate their memories.

One Life© Transmission Films / YOutube channel

In poignant contrast, Winton's unwavering commitment to preserving the legacy of his rescue mission stands in stark contrast to the indifference of the world around him.

While his wife, portrayed with touching depth by Lena Olin, bemoans her obsession with the past, Winton remains undaunted, keeping a meticulously curated archive in the hope that one day someone will notice. Although he saved hundreds of children, many people had not heard of Winton until 1988.

Then his wife found his old notebook in the attic. In it were written all the names of the children he saved, the names of their parents and the names of the family that received them upon their arrival in Great Britain. In the same year, the general public heard about Winton.

He was invited as a guest on the British TV show That's Life where his story was told.

One Life© Transmission Films / YOutube channel

What he didn't know was that the children he saved were also invited to the show, as well as the children and grandchildren of some of them.

When the host of the show asked the audience: If there is anyone here today who owes their life to Mr. Winton, please stand up. Several dozen people sitting around him stood up and applauded, and Winton was visibly moved. Since then, he received several awards for his humanitarian work, and he lived to a very old age and died at the age of 106.

Through archival footage and moving testimonies from the survivors he rescued, the film honors Winton's indomitable spirit and highlights the enduring power of compassion in the face of adversity. In its portrayal of a forgotten hero and his extraordinary deeds, "One Life" transcends the boundaries of conventional cinematography and becomes a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

With masterful performances, evocative cinematography and a narrative that resonates with timeless themes of courage, sacrifice and redemption, this British film leaves an indelible impression on the heart and mind of the viewer. One of the best movies of 2023.