top of page
  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

One Life (2024) - A Journey Through History’s Heart

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 Stars)

Released 03-15-2024

Watched 04-28-2024

Reviewed 04-29-2024

Rented from iTunes

"Can I ask, is there anyone in our audience tonight who owes their life to Nicholas Winton? If so, could you stand up please?"

"One Life," directed by James Hawes, is a stirring 2024 biographical drama that intricately weaves the past and present (well, 1980s) to portray the heroic efforts of British humanitarian Nicholas Winton. Starring Anthony Hopkins as an elder Winton reflecting on his earlier days, and Johnny Flynn portraying a younger Winton in the tumultuous period of 1938-39, the film delves into the depths of human kindness amidst the horrors of World War II.

The film toggles between two timelines. In 1938, after the Munich Agreement, Nicholas Winton, a young London stockbroker, visits Czechoslovakia and is confronted by the grim realities faced by Jewish families escaping the clutches of Nazi terror. Horrified by the squalid conditions and driven by a deep sense of duty, Winton—ably supported by his mother Babi (Helena Bonham Carter) and a few allies—orchestrates the Kindertransport. This organized effort aims to save Jewish children from the impending Nazi threat by finding them foster homes in England. The narrative is laden with tension and urgency, showcasing Winton's battle against time and bureaucracy.

Fast forward fifty years to 1988, a 79-year-old Winton, portrayed with profound vulnerability by Hopkins, stumbles upon his old BCRC (British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia) documents while cleaning his home preparing for a new grandchild. This discovery triggers a poignant reflection on his life’s work and the weight of the lives he couldn't save. His story gains a public dimension when he appears on the BBC TV show "That’s Life!", where he is reunited with some of the individuals he rescued—a profoundly moving scene that captures the emotional core of the film.

"One Life" is not just a film about historical events; it's a heartfelt reminder of the impact one individual can have on the lives of many. The performances, particularly those of Hopkins and Bonham Carter, are powerful and deeply moving, imbuing the narrative with authenticity and emotional depth. The dual timeline narrative effectively highlights the lifelong impact of Winton's actions, not only on those he saved but also on himself.

Overall, "One Life" is a beautifully crafted film that offers both a history lesson and a timeless message of compassion and resilience. It’s a poignant viewing experience that resonates deeply, especially in today’s global context of ongoing refugee crises.


bottom of page