Based on the book, If It’s Not Impossible… by Barbara Winton, ONE LIFE tells the inspiring true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, along with Trevor Chadwick and Doreen Warriner, whose unsung endeavours saved more than 600 children from their doom at the hands of the Nazis on the eve of World War II.
Winton considered himself a banker, not a humanitarian. When visiting a recently annexed Prague in 1938, he saw the state of the fleeing Jewish refugees, he did what he believed was the right thing to do – the thing that anyone would do – and dedicate himself to the cause.
With war approaching, he realises it’s a race against time. How many children could he and the British Committee for Refugees in Czechoslovakia rescue before the borders close?
Fifty years later, Winton lives haunted by the fate of the children he wasn’t able to bring to safety in England; always blaming himself for not doing more.
It’s not until a live BBC television show, That’s Life!, surprises him by introducing him to some surviving children – now adults – that he finally begins to come to terms with the guilt and grief he had carried for five decades.
Written by Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl) & Nick Drake (Romulus, My Father) and directed by James Hawes (Slow Horses), ONE LIFE features Anthony Hopkins as Winton, alongside Helena Bonham Carter (Babette / Barbara Winton), Johnny Flynn (Young Nicky), Romola Garai (Doreen Warriner), Lena Olin (Grete Winton), Jonathan Pryce (Martin Blake) and Alex Sharp (Trevor Chadwick).
Collaborating with Barbara Winton, Coxon & Drake gained access to Nicholas Winton’s archives and letters, as well as her book about her father. One of the elements the screenplay needed to address was Nicky’s own family history, and how it informed him and his choices.
Winton didn’t see himself as a hero, so it was important (and a challenge), for the screenwriters, to tell his extraordinary story while honouring his humility. Barbara Winton sadly passed away midway through principal photography.
Working with organisations including the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), the production consulted with four of “Nicky’s Children” and their families – who generously supported the project with their experiences and special appearances.
Image: Anthony Hopkins as Nicholas Winton in ONE LIFE – courtesy of Transmission Films