The Story of a Real-Life Hero

In the heart of a world torn by despair and evil, One Life casts a beacon of hope through the astonishing true story of Nicholas Winton, a young British stockbroker turned hero. However, One Life is a dark movie with uplifting moments. Is this movie suitable for all? In this One Life Christian Movie Review & Parent Guide, I give you the information you need before seeing this film with your child. 

One thing that was notable to me was that this happened in the Czechoslovakian region. My grandparents were both Slovak, and I heard many stories from my father about the number of Slavic people who were exterminated by Hitler. While this based on a true story film highlights the refugee camps in Prague, its main messages are that one person really does have the ability to make a difference in the world and that one person can spur others on to help.

This profound narrative, brought vividly to life by esteemed artists such as Johnny Flynn and Helena Bonham Carter, unfolds the riveting journey of Winton’s rescue missions amidst the throes of World War II. Drawing us deeper into the enigma of ordinary people like Winton and his aide. ‘One Life’ excellently encapsulates the essence of selflessness and bravery in the face of overwhelming darkness. It underscores the indispensable value of human life and the indomitable spirit of resistance against the surging tide of evil, accentuated by the dire circumstances in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Key Takeaways:

  • A breathtaking true tale of Nicholas Winton’s daring rescue during World War II.   
  • Stellar performances by Johnny Flynn, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, and Romola Garai bring historical heroism to life.   
  • A tribute to the power of goodness amidst the darkest times, showcasing the potential within each of us to enact monumental change. 
One Life movie poster

One Life Christian Movie Review

Studio Synopsis: 

ONE LIFE tells the incredible true story of Nicholas “Nicky” Winton, a young London broker who helps rescue hundreds of predominantly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia in a race against time before Nazi occupation closes the borders on the verge of World War II. Fifty years later, Nicky (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is haunted by the fate of those he wasn’t able to bring to safety.

My Synopsis:

As Hitler was marching toward world domination, one person took on the cause of helping others. Nicholas Winton, played by Johnny Flynn, attempts to save children’s lives. In a series of flashbacks, an older Winton, played by Anthony Hopkins, relives the time in his life when he helped save young children and agonizes over the ones that he couldn’t save. His wife, Grete, sees his anguish and gently encourages him to pass on the scrapbook with a list of children’s names and faces that he has kept. The journey the older Winton takes is one of self-healing and forgiveness for the ones he couldn’t save.

An older man stands on the steps outside his country home in One Life

One Life Christian Movie Review – What Parents Need to Know


While there is little foul language (one d-mn, s-it, bullocks and other words that we might not consider “swearing” – bloody,), there are a few instances of G-d’s name being used such as “Dear God,” God’s sake,” and Christ. However, they are not said in a manner that makes you feel as if they are taking God’s name in vain, but rather saying “why God.”


While there is very little violence onscreen, there are some scary visual images. The war scenes are done off-camera for the most part. When the German army invades Prague, you see people scrambling, burning documents, and panicking.

The hardest scenes to watch are the ones that depict families in Prague giving up their Czechoslovakian children to go live with foster parents in England. Children are separated from their parents and siblings. Furthermore, the impact of war on the young is depicted in a real and sad way.

In one of the saddest moments of the film, there are children on a train, and German soldiers come and take them off the train. Children and parents are frantic and screaming, and soldiers are ruthless. It was the last train that Winton had been waiting for in England, and that train never arrived. Moreover, these were the children that never made it out of Prague – the ones Winton couldn’t save.

Another scene shows a young girl, age 12, caring for a baby of an unknown mother who has died. 

Spiritual Content: 

Nicholas Winton is not a religious person. In fact, he was baptized a Christian, but his parents had a Jewish background. In the movie, he says he is unsure of what he would be called. A rabbi says, “I would call you Jewish.”

Women with a fur hat and stole standing holding a clipboard in a train station

Adult Content: 

Smoking and drinking are common throughout the movie.

Positive Content:

This film depicts what happens when one person rallies others to do the right thing. Winton ends up saving 669 children. However, he did not do it alone, but he enlisted people to help. Besides getting passports, the operation involved raising money.

Additionally, his mother was a tremendous help in the operation of bringing the children to London. He enlisted the aid of the British government and various government departments to expedite the transporting of children from Prague to London. Foster families had to be secured to bring the children over. News stories helped shed light on the critical situation, which helped find families to take in the children and poured in donations.

Later, the BBC show That’s Life helped unite the adult children with Winton. 

Unpacking the Characters

In ‘One Life’, a canvas of heroism is painted through the lives of remarkable individuals. At the heart lies Nicholas Winton, portrayed with great depth by Johnny Flynn. As a young man, he exemplified great compassion. Alongside him, Romola Garai shines as Doreen, the British aid worker whose resilience and determination defy the shadows of World War II. 

Helena Bonham Carter and Alex Sharp bring to life other pivotal characters, each adding layers to this intricate tapestry of courage. Their performances, steeped in authenticity and emotion, remind us of the extraordinary feats ordinary people are capable of when driven by love, faith, and a steadfast commitment to doing what’s right. 

Anthony Hopkins plays Nicholas Winton in One Life

Themes and Values: The Heart of ‘One Life’

In ‘One Life’, we’re transported into a world where the courage of ordinary people shines as a beacon of hope amidst the darkest hours of World War II. At its core, this film celebrates heroism, unwavering resistance against evil, and the incredible power that ordinary people have when they do extraordinary tasks.

The portrayal of Nicholas Winton and his rescue of Czech Jewish children serves as a poignant reminder that in the midst of darkness, a single act of kindness can ignite a flame of hope. 

The narrative expertly intertwines these themes with Christian values, emphasizing the paramount importance of standing up against injustice, embodying self-sacrifice, and fostering unconditional love. As families gather to watch ‘One Life’, it offers a unique opportunity to engage in deep conversations about the significance of our faith in guiding moral choices, the impact of altruism, and our collective responsibility to resist evil in all its forms. 

Ironically, Nicholas Winton did not claim to be a Christian, and he rejected organized religion. Instead, he claimed ethics as his guide. However, as Christians, we understand that a moral compass comes from God and God’s laws.

Johnny Flynn plays young Nicholas Winton standing in a train station in One Life

Why ‘One Life’ is a Must-Watch

‘One Life’ is more than just a film; it’s an odyssey into the heart of what it means to be a hero in the darkest times. With Johnny Flynn bringing to life the extraordinary tale of Nicholas Winton, the “savior” of Czech Jewish children, and powerful performances by Helena Bonham Carter and Lena Olin, this movie transcends the screen to touch hearts. 

Directed by James Hawes, this film is his directorial debut in moviemaking. It showcases the undying spirit of ordinary people doing extraordinary things amidst the horrors of World War II. Through its compelling storytelling, ‘One Life’ challenges us to see beyond ourselves and our time, urging us to reflect on the impact of heroism and the ripple effects of love and bravery.

In a world craving for beacons of light, this film stands out as a must-watch, inviting viewers not just to witness history but to carry forward its lessons into their own lives. 

Leaving the Theater with More Than Just Memories

Walking out of the cinema, the lingering echoes of ‘One Life’ resonate with a profound depth, offering us more than mere cinematic memories. This film, grounded in the astonishing real-life endeavors of Nicholas Winton to save Czech Jewish children, transcends its historical narrative to deliver an indelible moral lesson. As we journey through the remarkable acts of heroism portrayed by Johnny Flynn and the compassionate aid by Helena Bonham Carter, alongside notable performances from Lena Olin and Esther Rantzen, we’re reminded of the power ordinary people possess to enact extraordinary change. The film’s vivid depiction of a dark time, countered by the luminous spirit of Winton and his cohort, including Romola Garai’s portrayal of a dedicated British aid worker, inspires us with a charge to carry forth. 

‘One Life’ is a resounding call, urging us not just to admire the courage seen on screen but to embody these values in our everyday lives. Furthermore, it urges us to stand up against injustice, support those in need, and to remember that one single life can make a difference. Let’s allow the lessons of ‘One Life’ to guide our steps long after the closing credits roll, crafting a legacy of kindness, bravery, and compassion in our communities.

One Life Christian Movie Review – My Viewing Recommendations

Before you settle in to watch ‘One Life’, it’s crucial I share a few thoughts on its audience suitability and the conversational goldmine it offers for family discussions. Let’s be upfront, the movie showcases its fair share of violent content and thematic elements, uncovering the harsh realities of World War II, concentration camps, and the starkness of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Given this, ‘One Life’ is not appropriate for viewers under the age of twelve. 

But here’s where it gets interesting for us. ‘One Life’ isn’t just a film; it’s a springboard for deep, meaningful discussions with our children about history, morality, and the undying essence of standing up against injustice. Imagine unraveling the layers of bravery, ordinary people doing extraordinary things (much like Nicholas Winton and his accomplices), and the essence of resistance against evil. This movie serves as a perfect film to inspire, educate, and remind us all that heroism knows no borders. 

Teaching with One Life

This movie is an excellent film to watch with older children. While it highlights the plight of Jewish families during WWII, it actually goes beyond the war. In the end, we hear the number of children saved due to the efforts of one man and a group of people that he convinced to help. We also see German soldiers “just following orders” and rounding up people they deemed to be less than others. 

Next, discuss how different people had different roles to help end the war. While some people worked in factories, others worked entertaining the troops. Help came from unexpected places. For example, Walt Disney produced war propaganda films. One such film, Victory Through Air Power, helped to end the war. After FDR was given a copy of this movie, he committed to the increased use of planes. It is an excellent film to watch that shows the history of aviation and includes a powerful argument for the use of air power.

After watching this One Life, use a map and find out more about Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia (then and now), Prague, and refugee camps. Actually, look at the data. How many people lost their lives? How many children? While history books tend to talk about all the Jews who lost the lives, find out how many were Jewish, Catholic, Slavic, Polish, etc.? 

About The Movie – One Life

Rating: PG for thematic material, smoking, and some language

Release Date: March 15, 2024

Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Genre: Drama

Studio: See-Saw Films, BBC Film, MBK Productions, Cross City Films, FilmNation Entertainment, LipSync

Directed by: James Hawes

Screenplay by: Lucinda Coxon, Nick Drake

Based on: If It’s Not Impossible…The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton by Barbara Winton

Producer: Joanna Laurie, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Guy Heeley

Editor: Lucia Zucchetti

Music by: Volker Bertelmann

Distributed by: Warner Brothers Pictures

The Cast of One Life:

Nicholas Winton played by Anthony Hopkins

Nicholas Winton (as a young man) played by Johnny Flynn

Grete Winton played by Lena Olin

Babi Winton played by Helena Bonham Carter

Trevor Chadwick played by Alex Sharp

Doreen Warriner played by Romola Garai

Esther Rantzen played by Samantha Spiro

Martini Blake played by Jonathan Pryce

Betty Maxwell played by Marthe Keller

William played by Tom Glenister

Rudi played by Jiri Simek

BBC Assistant played by Emily Lainy

Vera Gissing played by Henrietta Garden

Bernard played by Tim Steed

Nina played by Matilda Thorpe

Frank played by Daniel Brown

Rabbi Hertz played by Samuel Finzi

​Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines played by Anna Darvas

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