One Life: what will you do with yours?

Film review of One Life – 4.5 out of 5 stars

World War II continues to fascinate audiences, despite the many tales that have poured out of this era. The stark portrayal of evil and the yearning for hope is the fuel to keep these stories coming to theatres. What is astounding is that there are new stories each year that manage to capture viewers’ imagination and bring them back for more.

One Life depicts the work of Nicholas Winton (Sir Anthony Hopkins/Johnny Flynn), who went to visit Prague, Czechoslovakia on a whim to join some of his friends in the city. Yet, while he was there, he saw firsthand the work of the Nazis as they began to occupy the country.

Winton’s determination to save their lives and have their stories told was legendary.

In a last-minute decision, the young stockbroker decides to remain to assist the growing need of refugees who were being persecuted by Hitler’s army. The group’s work led to the evacuation of hundreds of Jewish children to England before the beginning of the war in 1939. This film shows this work in Czechoslovakia and how Winton would continue to share the story later in his life, where he would eventually come in contact with many of those saved during the war.

One Life

Scene from One Life Transmission Films

Nicholas Winton was not the only man to risk his life for the sake of the children of Europe, but his determination to save their lives and have their stories told was legendary. Director James Hawes (Black Mirror) strikes a balance between the past and the present to show how the Kindertransport would go on to save 669 children before the beginning of the Second World War.

Between the performances and the history, One Life is one of the best of the year.

Yet One Life also delves into the psychological toll this work took on the man who helped to organise it. Anthony Hopkins is brilliant in portraying the older version of the humanitarian worker and how he continued to get the children’s story told. The Academy Award-winning actor proves he still has command of the screen and can immerse himself in his character.

Johnny Flynn shows himself to be a talent worth watching for the future of cinema as he embodies the younger version of Nicholas Winton. Lena Olin, Romola Garai, Alex Sharp, and Helena Bonham Carter round out this outstanding cast to draw viewers into this fascinating and unforgettable journey, which took decades to be told.

Scene from One Life

Nicholas (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and Grete Winton (Lena Olin) in One Life Transmission Films

This triumph of a film is delicate and caring in depicting this heartbreaking yet encouraging story, just as Winton must have been to do the work of transporting these children across a continent infected by the Nazis. Between the performances and the history, One Life is one of the best of the year.

Reel Dialogue: One life for the sake of many

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40

Nicholas Winton’s story carries us back and forth throughout history. His story shows how one life can affect scores of others, and has been at the heart of great cinematic tales over the decades. This film rips open the wounds left by the feeling of not doing enough. It attempts to answer how each life decision has effects that ripple throughout time. It is a beautiful depiction of caring for others who cannot help themselves.

How do we treat others in our lives? One Life is a reflection of the words of Jesus: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Loving others comes directly from the love of God.

This sounds easy enough and straightforward, but for most people it proves to be challenging to do. Why? Because the ability to practice loving our neighbours, friends, family and enemies can only be based on the first part of his answer. Loving others can only truly be experienced by loving God first, because he first loved us.

To be clear, people can love without God, but they can never understand the true meaning of love without his presence in their lives. It is only by God’s power that we can truly understand what it means to love our neighbour.

The answer to loving others comes directly from the love of God. They go hand in hand.

If you would like to discuss the topic of loving your neighbour and God, reach out to Third Space. Russ and the team would love to chat with you about this and more.

Russ Matthews works for City Bible Forum as Product Manager for The Edge and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and getting conversations started on themes from these visual creations. This review first appeared on Third Space and is republished with permission.

Related Reading

Related stories from around the web

Eternity News is not responsible for the content on other websites