One Life

British stockbroker Nicholas Winton visits Czechoslovakia in the 1930s and forms plans to assist in the rescue of Jewish children before the onset of World War II, in an operation that came to be known as the Kindertransport.

  • Released:
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, History, War
  • Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonathan Pryce, Romola Garai, Lena Olin, Samantha Spiro, Adrian Rawlins, Marthe Keller, Ziggy Heath, Tom Glenister, Tim Steed, Samuel Finzi, Matilda Thorpe, Ffion Jolly, Alex Sharp, Johnny Flynn
  • Director: James Hawes
  • RIK-22 - 12 June 2024
    Brilliantly understated and very moving film
    As someone in my 50s who typically dislikes most new films, I discovered a true gem with this movie. Firstly, lets address the criticism, that it's understated and perhaps a bit slow, this misses the point entirely. The film's deliberate pace mirrors the nature and character of the main protagonist-an unassuming man.

    This character embodies the best of the old English gentleman stereotype: introverted, selfless (Nicolas Winton should now be definition in the dictionary of Selflessness), and modest to a fault. While these qualities exist across cultures, there was a time when thinking of an Englishman would conjure up precisely these traits.

    The film's tone grapples with the dilemma of portraying a genuine hero whom doesn't seek attention or recognition. Refreshingly, it contrasts this with today's prevalent approach of shameless self-promotion.

    Despite my usual cynicism, I found myself moved to tears throughout the film.
  • moviesfilmsreviewsinc - 17 April 2024
    One life saved hundreds
    The true story of Nicholas Winton, known as the "British Schindler," is told in a heartfelt and direct manner by screenwriters Nick Drake, Lucinda Coxon, and director James Hawes. The film is a tribute to wartime Europe and postwar memory, and a significant moment in British popular TV history. The film stars Anthony Hopkins as Winton, a stockbroker in his retirement, who re-examines a scrapbook detailing the 669 Czech Jewish children he and other humanitarians saved from the Nazis in the late 30s. Johnny Flynn portrays Winton as a pro-refugee activist, while Helena Bonham Carter delivers a powerful performance as Flynn's mother, Babette. Nine trainloads of children were saved from Nazi territory on their way to Britain during World War II. The rescue mission was filled with tension and uncertainty, as Nazi soldiers could turn them back for various reasons. Eight trainloads passed through well due to their British national status, but the ninth trainload was on the platform at Prague when news of Germany's invasion of Poland came through. Swaggering Nazi soldiers swarm into the station, causing anguish and horror. The document was later discovered by Elisabeth Maxwell, wife of Robert, and later by Esther Rantzen, host of That's Life! Rantzen invited him to the show twice, and on the second occasion, secretly contrived for the audience to be either grownup child refugees or descendants. The film does justice to this overwhelmingly moving event in British public life in a quietly affecting drama. In the late 1930s, Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker, visited Czechoslovakia to witness the humanitarian crisis and panic among the exiled Jewish community. With the help of his mother, Babette (Helena Bonham Carter), he helped secure the rescue of 669 children, most of whom were Jewish, a feat later known as "the British Schindler." This story is a stirring one, considering Britain's present-day reluctance to offer shelter to those most in need. Winton, who was knighted for his actions, is a hero worth celebrating. James Hawes' first feature, "The British Schindler," hits all the expected emotional beats and piggybacks on a famous pair of episodes of the 1988 TV show That's Life! For a tear-jerking ending. One Life is a film that focuses on the life of Winston Churchill, a British war hero, during World War II. The film follows Winton's journey from his early days in the late 1930s to his meeting with Doreen Warriner, a British economist turned humanitarian. Warriner is a key member of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, and her character is portrayed as unflappable and inspiring. Garai's performance is superb, and Bonham Carter's portrayal of Babette Winton is also noteworthy. However, the film's writing and storytelling are predictable and manipulative, making it difficult to stand out in the crowded field of second world war movies. The film's main reference points include Mark Jonathan Harris's Oscar-winning documentary Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport and Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. Despite these shortcomings, One Life is a compelling and thought-provoking film that deserves a place in the top tier of second world war movies. In the 1980s, Nicholas Winton, a retired philanthropist, is clearing out his box files from their home in Maidenhead, filled with details of various charitable endeavors. One of the files is a briefcase containing the names and pictures of children he engineered to escape from Prague. Winton realizes this is an archive of historical significance and meets Elisabeth Maxwell, wife of newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell. The story of Winton's contribution to the Kindertransport is taken up by the media. Hawes adopts a distinct visual approach for each period, with camerawork in the 1930s having a sense of urgency and a cold, ominous grey palette. In contrast, the 1980s segments are steadier and more contemplative, with warm, welcoming color tones. The character of Winton and the empathic kinship between the two lead performances are what links the two sections. Flynn fronts the more conventionally exciting section of the story, while Hopkins delivers an unusually low-key performance that gathers force by stealth until he almost rips our hearts out with the scenes in the That's Life! Television studio.
  • digdilem - 6 April 2024
    Amazing story, brilliantly told.
    I'm a middle aged guy, and I consider myself pretty cynical. I watched this only because the wife wanted to, but ended up entranced and literally cried for most of it.

    The story is incredible, and although the film doesn't go into the bigger picture of the war very deeply, it's there and your mind floods with empathy at those who suffered so much loss. The film manages to convey all this without being mawkish or overly sentimental but the facts are terrifying.

    I actually remember this episode of That's Life shown at the end - that was incredible too.

    Great story, well told. It's absolutely worth watching for any reason, not just because you might feel you have to. This has no agenda that I noticed, it's a pretty accurate representation of an incredible story.

    As for the film - Hopkins is obviously brilliant, but there's literally no bad acting in this. The direction is perfect, the score is sublime - really emphasising without being intrusive in any way. The switching between timelines is clever and useful, not dizzying and confusing as such things so often are.

    And perhaps most remarkable of all, considering the subject it manages to mostly be uplifting and positive.