One Life Movie Review

​This is an unforgettable story, and having Anthony Hopkins tell it makes it all the better. It’s the true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, who, as a young British stockbroker at the time, couldn’t stand the atrocities he was seeing in Prague. Johnny Flynn plays the younger version of Winton and gives an amazing performance.

In 1938, not long before World War II broke out, he visited a village where a lot of Austrians fled when Hitler occupied their country. Italy, France and Britain agreed to some demands of his in hopes of avoiding war and the next day he invaded Czechoslovakia. Tens of thousands of refugees, homeless and hopeless, fled for unoccupied Prague, many of them Jewish families; parents who had children and nothing to feed them. Nicky was disturbed by what he saw, hurt by their pain and wanted to do something for them. So, he did. He gathered some friends, new and old, and his mother played by the gifted Helena Bonham Carter, and put together a plan for a Prague Rescue of the refugee children.


He had some resources and acquired a great number of volunteers to get the children to Britain. On his first visit, he makes a mistake he didn’t mean to make. He had some chocolate on him and realized that giving one starving child a little piece wasn’t a good idea. Others surrounded him like bees to their honeycomb and it broke his heart to tell them he had none left.


The movie goes back and forth from 1938 to 1987. They have a new grandchild coming and Nicky’s wife wants him to clear out all of the stuff her hoarder has never been able to get rid of, including pictures of the children he helped save. He never wanted credit for what he had achieved, so it’s time to, “Let it go.” He stares at it all and looks at the faces of the children through a magnifying glass. There’s a twelve-year-old girl who carries a baby around. He discovers it’s not a relative of hers. She found it. The parents were either taken or dead. These two destroyed him for the rest of his life. He couldn’t simply let them go from his soul. That girl’s face was burned into his brain.


We go back to 1938 when he spoke to a Rabbi. He asks why he wants to help Hitler take people from their homeland. Nicky explains that he cannot unsee what he has seen and when religion is brought up, he tells the Rabbi that he is agnostic. He’s not doing this for attention, he wants to help. He needs money and visas for them. That Rabbi tells him a Hebrew saying, “Don’t start what you can’t finish.” Then, he agrees to help where he can.


England also wants the kids to have foster parents ready to take them in before they arrive on the train. He never thought ordinary people would believe this was happening and if they did, they wouldn’t stand for it so he started the Ordinary People fund to raise some of the money they desperately needed. What they had to achieve seemed impossible, but they fought hard.


One of the items his wife wanted him to let go of was a scrapbook he had made. It makes its way to a talk show where they talk about what he did. 2,000 children were in that concentration camp and only 200 walked out. He managed to save 669 souls. He was never happy about it. Never proud of himself because of the ones who were left behind. The scene where it hits him that he wasn’t “her” hero is soul-crushing. Hopkins brings it, crying out because he couldn’t let her go. The grief and guilt of not being able to save them. It ruined his chance to live himself. Eventually, he became known as the British Schindler. I’d prefer not tell you why and let you discover that yourself. It’s not an easy watch and I’d be surprised if you manage without needing a tissue.

One Life

Director: James Hawes
Writer: Lucinda Coxon, Nick Drake

*Based on:

“If It’s Not Impossible…The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton by Barbara Winton”

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Flynn, Lena Olin, Romola Garai, Alex Sharp, Jonathan Pryce

Rated: PG
Run Time: 1h 50m
Genres: History, Drama, Biography

Distributed by: Bleecker Street



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Mesquite Stadium 6 contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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