“One Life” / One LifeMovie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

On May 30, the biographical drama “One Life,” which tells the story of British philanthropist Nicholas Winton, began showing in cinemas. On the eve of World War II, he tried to save Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia. The script of the film is based on the book “If It Is Not Impossible… The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton,” written by the daughter of the main character, Barbara Winton. In the review below we tell you what an outstanding movie resembles a local story and why you should definitely watch this film.


a movie with a humanistic message and a climax with a strong emotional overtones, so have your handkerchiefs ready; a wonderful role from master Anthony Hopkins; educational function – the world should know its heroes;


Anthony Hopkins’ top-notch performance gets lost in the other performers, including Johnny Flynn, who plays a younger version of the same character; the storyline of young Winton gallops across Europe, making it impossible to grasp all the nuances of the story;

“One Life” / One Life

Genre biographical drama
Director James Hawes
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Flynn, Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Olin, Jonathan Pryce, Romola Garai, Alex Sharp, Samantha Spiro
Premiere cinemas
Year of release 2023
IMDb website

In 1938, a few weeks after the signing of the Munich Agreement, an ordinary stockbroker from England, Nicholas Winton, was determined to go to Czechoslovakia and join the British Refugee Committee. Arriving in Prague, he discovers the terrible living conditions of families, in particular Jewish ones, who were forced to flee from the Nazis.

Not wanting to put up with such a terrible state of affairs, and also in order to save frozen and hungry children from the inevitably approaching Nazi invasion, Vinton and his like-minded people are trying to organize their transportation to the UK. But a huge number of obstacles arise on the path of the heroes – from the damned bureaucracy to the catastrophic lack of necessary resources.

When you first become acquainted with the content of “One Life”, even before watching it, “Schindler’s List” immediately comes to mind; No wonder the press called Winton “the British Schindler.”

But we should not forget that the director of mostly television projects, James Hawes, is clearly not Steven Spielberg, and therefore his film is very far from Spielberg’s monumentalism and powerful immersion in the tragedy of the Holocaust. However, this does not mean that “One Life” is not worth attention. On the contrary, despite a certain modesty of production, this biographical drama has something to offer the caring viewer.

Stories like that of Nicholas Winton, who played a vital role in Operation Kindertransport, can inspire nothing but admiration and must be told, heard and seen.

But this might not even have happened: the world learned about the Briton’s feat only many years after the end of the war – in 1988, when the television show That’s Life! on the BBC channel invited Wynton to its studio (recordings of the broadcast can be viewed on YouTube). These were later various honors such as knighting by Queen Elizabeth II or the Order of the White Lion – the highest state award of the Czech Republic. “One Life” is appropriately divided into two time periods – the turbulent and pre-apocalyptic end of the 30s, when the world was on the verge of World War II ; and the leisurely end of the 80s, when Wynton, already old but still full of energy, decides to share with the world the most intimate thing he has – an album with information about transported children. It also contains blank pages. They became a bitter reminder that circumstances did not allow the hero to complete the mission to the extent that he had planned.

Obviously, it was impossible to squeeze into the short 100 minutes of running time (this does not include the end credits) all the important events that took place in real life. Not only the suspense, but also the dramaturgy of the timeline that preceded the war noticeably suffers from this factor. The filmmakers go over the top without diving too deeply into the many nuances of a noble cause. However, there is confidence that they did not set such a task for themselves.

From a dramatic point of view, the emphasis is placed precisely on the line of the elderly Winton, while narratively the rather dry story of the young hero performs rather an informational function: what challenges did he have to face, how did he overcome them, who helped him, what he managed to do, and what – No.

And that is why the presence in the frame of the unsurpassed Anthony Hopkins, who is able to evoke the audience’s empathy long before the climactic, most emotional scenes, seems so appropriate. His character already has a solid background, because we know how big of a deal he accomplished. But Sir Anthony, a truly outstanding actor, gives the personality of the screen Sir Nicholas an expressive charm, a pleasant sense of humor and the depth of a caring man who does not shy away from shedding a stingy male tear. There is a risk that the viewer will follow his example.

Unfortunately, the other actors simply didn’t have enough time to prove themselves: young 29-year-old Wynton, played by Johnny Flynn, is not particularly memorable, and Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Hawes in a project not for the first time, has only one worthwhile dialogue in the entire film .

However, the world needs a movie like this. Emotional, poignant, absolutely sincere and glorifying the triumph of life over death, and good over evil. It is especially needed today, when so many children’s tears are being shed again.


“One Life” is a wonderful movie that does not claim the laurels of the outstanding “Schindler’s List”, but successfully evokes a sincere response from the audience.

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