One Life - multiplication of good

One Life - multiplication of good

Nicholas Winton seems to have been a man who could move others to action by his conviction and enthusiasm for doing what is right. The new film, One Life, directed by James Hawes, celebrates that one person who decides to do what is right in the face of great suffering can, indeed, change the world for the better. Look for One Life in theaters beginning on March 15th.


The legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Nicky (as he was known by his friends) Winton, an aging, ordinary man whose humanitarian contribution to refugees on the eve of World War II, went unacknowledged for years.


Nicky's wife, Grete (Lena Olin), encourages him to clean up the papers which have gathered around their home for years. She's off to visit their pregnant daughter and Nicky will be home alone for a few days. While cleaning, he runs across a briefcase in a drawer. It contains a scrapbook that catapults his memory to 1938 when he began a trip that would change his life forever.



Anthony Hopkins as Nicholas "Nicky" Winton in "One Life."  © 2024 Bleeker Street Media. All Rights Reserved. 



Originally planning to go skiing, Nicky (played by Johnny Flynn as a young man) diverts to Prague at the request of his friend, Martin (Ziggy Heath). There he witnesses the suffering of the refugees, mostly Jewish, who have been displaced from the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia and fled to unoccupied Prague. Nicky especially notes how many children are alone on the streets of Prague.


He founds a new section of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia specifically for children. Nicky, together with collaborators Doreen Warriner (Romola Garai), Trevor Chadwick (Alex Sharp), and others, begin gathering paperwork for the children whose parents agree to send them to England for their safety.


On the home front, Nicky gets his mother, Babi (Helena Bonham Carter), involved and she relentlessly hounds British officials to speed up the immigration process for the children being sent from Prague.


Returning to Britain to facilitate the children's arrival and assignment to foster families, Nicky continues getting vulnerable children to safety until Hitler's invasion of Poland blocks the train routes the Committee has been using.



Johnny Flynn as Young Nicky in "One Life."  © 2024 Bleeker Street Media. All Rights Reserved. 



Years later, seeing that Nicky did a good job in cleaning up the house while she was away, Grete asks her husband, "Do you ever wonder what happened to all these children?" Nicky's quiet response indicates that he's never really stopped thinking about them. "All the time."


Inspired to donate his scrapbook to a place that would appreciate it, Nicky ends up with Holocaust historian, Elisabeth Maxwell (Marthe Keller). The end result is Nicky's appearance on the TV show, That's Life, where the producers manage to find a number of the children rescued by Nicky and his friends. They are reunited for the first time and Nicky begins to realize the impact his work has had on hundreds and thousands of lives.



Anthony Hopkins as Nicky and Henrietta Garden as Vera Gissing in "One Life."  © 2024 Bleeker Street Media. All Rights Reserved. 



One Life showcases the impact one person can have on so many others. Nicky's family were German-Jewish immigrants to Britain but Nicky, although baptized into the Anglican faith, never really practiced any religion. He didn't do what he did for God, but just because it was the right and ethical thing to do.


At the end of the film, the audience learns what became of some of the major players. Nicky lived to be 106 years old, passing away in 2015. The information that touched me the most was the fact that there are an estimated 6,000 people alive today thanks to the over 600 children rescued by Nicky. Many of them were in the television scenes as the studio audience.


Nicky's story reminds me of a Gospel passage (Mark 9: 38-40): "John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he wasn't following us." But Jesus said, "Don't stop him – no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able to speak ill of me soon afterwards, for whoever's not against us is for us." Nicky may not have done what he did in Jesus' name, but he was still doing good for God, whether that was his intention or not and his goodness was multiplied.


One Life is a lovely reminder that there are good people in the world, who are willing to do what is right, regardless of the cost, in generosity and humility.







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