One Life is based on the incredible story of Sir Nicholas (‘Nicky’) Winton, a young London broker who in the run up to World War Two, rescued young Jewish children from the imposing threat of the Nazis. Upon visiting Prague in 1938, young Nicholas (played by Johnny Flynn) finds devastating cases of refugees who had fled the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austria, living in dire conditions and under the constant threat of invasion. One of the most heart-breaking parts of the film was the depiction of the conditions where these people lived, with one of the scenes showing a mother cradling her dead baby. After seeing these conditions and the number of children living in them, Nicholas is determined to help get the children out and give them homes in England. With the help of people in both Prague and England, including his own mother (played exceptionally by Helena Bonham Carter), Nicholas managed to save 669 children from the Holocaust. Fifty years later, we see how an older Nicholas (played by Anthony Hopkins) lives constantly with the guilt for the children he was unable to bring to safety. Nicholas is convinced by his wife to share this story, and it is on the BBC television show ‘That’s Life’, where Nicholas is surprised by being reunited with some of the surviving children (now adults) that he saved. This reunion also sees Nicholas come to terms with the grief and guilt he has felt ever since the beginning of the Second World War.
With the help of people in both Prague and England, including his own mother (played exceptionally by Helena Bonham Carter), Nicholas managed to save 669 children from the Holocaust.
A few years ago, I had seen the clip of Sir Nicholas Winton in the audience of ‘That’s Life’, and the surprise of the audience being the children he saved. I remember becoming very emotional learning of his story and so when I heard there was a film coming out about his life I was very eager to watch it. I had only heard recounted stories of his exceptional endeavour and so seeing the horrors Nicholas saw in the refugee villages in Prague reconstructed in the film, as well as his struggles of attaining homes for the children in England, emphasised how extraordinary Sir Nicholas was in managing to save a high number of children.
Hopkins delivers an emotional performance that is a testament to his ability to respect an important story that he is at the forefront of showing.
Johnny Flynn’s performance as young Nicholas is exceptional, demonstrating the strong determination and perseverance that Nicholas had in bringing as many children to safety as possible. Furthermore, Anthony Hopkins portrays an older Nicholas in a way that creates so much warmth to the man, as well as provoking sympathy in us as an audience when we realise that Nicholas has guilt for those children he could not save. Hopkins delivers an emotional performance that is a testament to his ability to respect an important story that he is at the forefront of showing. Finally, Helena Bonham Carter, playing young Nicholas’ mother Babette Winton, creates a sassy and strong performance, making us cheer her along in her pursuits to make the cause happen. If you haven’t seen One Life yet I highly recommend doing so, it is an emotional watch that will keep you thinking about it for many days after.