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  • Writer's pictureEugene

One Life (2023)


Plenty of tears were shed during One Life, the moving story of Sir Nicholas Winton and the Czech Kindertransport.  We just loved the film, in fact, it was my third viewing. Our discussion group couldn’t understand why the critics got the wrong end of the stick and why it didn’t get any awards. This is very much a word-of-mouth film, which everyone I knew has recommended to others.  We watched it in a happily full Sunnyside Hall. 

 

As well as appreciation of the beautiful construction of the film, its sensitivity and the excellent performances. Anthony Hopkins put in a finely crafted turn as Sir Nicholas. Esther Rantzen was portrayed by Samantha Spiro. This could have become a caricature, but she is such a versatile and skilled performer.

 

One of our group wondered whether Nicholas Winton, as depicted in the film, was suffering from PTSD. To save the pain, he had blocked thinking about the ninth doomed Kindertransport train, which the Nazis cruelly stopped from leaving. The children on that train perished in the concentration camps.

 

This did lead us to talk about the mental health difficulties that many Holocaust survivors faced after the war and this can be passed onto their children. Even Karel Reisz the film maker didn’t talk to his children about his experiences until he attended Elisabeth Maxwell’s Remembering for the Future conference in 1988. He met Sir Nicholas and other refugees there and that was a turning point. We shared some memories of how our relatives had responded to the horrors of war.

 

We also reflected on the goodness in Sir Nicholas’s actions. One of our group saw his humanitarian work as “an act of faith.” 

 

Before the film, I was able to share some of my research about the Czech Kindertransport planes, which were several months before the trains. I also talked about the children’s lives when they came to Britain and the refugees who came to a missionary home in Chislehurst. As part of the magic that is RCC, one of our audience had special knowledge of the area where they stayed.

 

Happy eight years to us and we’ve achieved 200 films too. The high attendances recently show how we have truly put the Covid days behind us. Long may our success continue.

 

Anne

 

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