One Life

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Sir Nicholas George Winton, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 109, was responsible for rescuing six hundred sixty-nine children from a Czechoslovakian concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Winton did this by making phone calls to British officials and also securing foster families through publishing of pictures of children. Foster families from all over Europe answered, and support poured in. Winton along with his mother worked covertly in hotel rooms and utilized many volunteers to achieve this amazing feat of liberation. “One Life” by director James Hawes is the biopic of his life featuring Johnny Flynn as the younger Nicholas Winton and Anthony Hopkins playing Winton as an aged man.

Although the film is conventionally told, Hopkins imbues the historic man with great feeling and empathy. Much of the film shows a young Winton rushing up and down stairs from one phone to another securing families and documents and briefing his mother, played by Helena Bonham Carter. There is little dialogue.

However, the last half of the film picks up speed when an octogenarian Winton is visited by the people he saved and achieves celebrity by appearing on British television. Anthony Hopkins’ distinctive staccato dialogue adds an emotive zing to the textbook treatment of historic events with pained emotion pouring from every wrinkle on his face. The scenes of meeting and reunion are especially affecting. Winton resides in Hopkins the actor.

Though some of the pathos feels a matter of record, “One Life” is a vivid primer on Nicholas Winton and his great achievement and boundless courage in saving a stupefying number of lives. One self-deprecating chuckle coupled with a glint in Hopkins’ eye contains all that is necessary to underscore the man known as Nicholas Winton, MBE.

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