At The Movies: One Life

Hi Fi Way were invited to the premiere of One Life to kick off the British Film Festival. This true story about Nicholas Winton was superbly portrayed by one of my favourite actors, Anthony Hopkins as Winton in the late 1980s and by Johnny Flynn as Winton in 1938-9.

Winton was a stock broker for a London bank and was about to take a week’s leave to help his good friend assist refugees flee from Prague with the looming threat of Nazi occupation. When he arrives there he is horrified by the conditions that these people, mostly Jewish, were trying to survive in. Women were crying while holding their infants who had died from disease or the cold. He was particularly touched by a young twelve-year old girl nursing a baby, assuming it to be her little brother or sister.

He is determined to do something and try and find temporary foster homes for these children in England, until they can be reunited with their parents. He enlists the help of his persuasive mother Babette (Helena Bonham Carter). They are fighting uphill battles against British bureaucracy but are desperate to help the children. Winton returns home to his work while working tirelessly after hours to get the children to safety.

It is easy to see the constant torment that Winton had endured for fifty years – retaining the mountains of meticulous paperwork from so long ago. With the pending arrival of his grandchild, his wife Grete (Lena Olin) pleads with him to “let go” while she goes away to visit their daughter. The one thing he is reluctant to give up is his treasured scrap book with photos and details of every child he managed to free from the Nazi horror that we all know ensued soon after.

He doesn’t want it get buried in some library or hidden away in war archives and is too humble to go public. Eventually he finds a media outlet who is intensely interested in his memorabilia and what the young Winton achieved.

My partner and I both spoke after the movie about many similarities facing children and their parents now in places such as Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan and Somalia to name just a few. It is a deeply moving film, and really is a “must see” – but make sure you take some tissues with you, because at some stage you are going to need them!! Actually, I just teared up watching the trailer again, knowing what happened.

Movie Review by John Glennie

Screening at Palace Cinemas for the Cunard British Film Festival