One Life Movie: Release Date, Cast, Synopsis

One Life is the true story of British humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton

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World War II drama, One Life, is a true story about the rescue of Jewish and refugee children who were evacuated to Britain before the start of the war. 

One Life stars Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Johnny Flynn (Stardust), Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter franchise), Jonathan Pryce (The Crown) and Lena Olin (Enemies: A Love Story). The film is directed by British television director James Hawes, who is making his feature film debut with One Life. 

With a stellar leading cast, and heartwarming true story, One Life has the makings of an Academy Award contender. This article will include:

  • What One Life is about

  • Who was Sir Nicholas Winton?

  • Who are the Winton Children?

  • Where to watch One Life

  • The full One Life cast

  • One Life filming locations

  • The team behind One Life

What is One Life about? 

One Life is a World War II drama based on the true story of Sir Nicholas Winton. Rushing to evacuate Jewish and other refugee children from Czechoslovakia to the United Kingdom, One Life is about the struggle to bring these children to safety before the Nazis close the borders. One Life is based on the book, ‘If It’s Not Impossible… The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton’ written by his daughter Barbara Winton. 

The film’s title is inspired by the Hebrew proverb, ‘He who saves one life saves the world’. The proverb is also referenced in Steven Spielberg’s World War II drama Schindler’s List.

Who was Sir Nicholas Winton? 

Sir Nicholas Winton was a British humanitarian and stockbroker, born to German-Jewish parents in London. He is famous for his efforts to rescue the lives of 669 refugee children between 1938 - 1939 by bringing them to the United Kingdom before the start of World War II. In what was known as the Czechoslovakian Kindertransport operation (German for ‘children’s transport’), he worked to fulfil all of the legal and logistical requirements needed to transport and house the children in Britain.

Winton initially declined to enlist in the British Army as a conscientious objector, choosing to serve with the Red Cross. In 1940, however, he joined the Royal Air Force, where he rose up the ranks. 

He briefly mentioned his humanitarian accomplishments when running for political office in the 1950s, but they otherwise went largely unrecognised for decades. His wife Grete discovered a scrapbook in their attic with details about the Winton Children. She shared the discovery with a friend, and it was later shared on live television during an episode of BBC’s That’s Life! where Winton has been invited as a member of the audience. Sir Nicholas Winton was married with three children. He was awarded the British Hero of the Holocaust award, and the Order of the White Lion, Czech Republic’s highest order. In 2015, he died in Berkshire at the age of 106. 

Who are the Winton Children?

The Winton Children is the name given to the 669 children that were saved from Winton’s efforts in World War II. Among the children were immunologist Leslie Baruch Brent, architect Isi Metzstein, politician Alf Dubs, and Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, Chief Rabbi of the Edah HaChareidis in Jerusalem. Over half of the Winton children that arrived in Britain have not been identified. 

Where to watch One Life? 

The One Life UK release date is January 1, 2024. It will be available to watch in cinemas across the UK.  It’s not known yet where or when the film will be available to stream. 

The film has been selected to participate in a number of prestigious film festivals as well. The film had its world premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. One Life will also screen at the London Film Festival with showings between October 12 - 15th, 2023.

Who is in the One Life cast? 

The cast of One Life is filled with British acting royalty. Two time Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins leads the cast as Nicholas Winton, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sir Jonathan Pryce. Pryce and Hopkins previously starred in the Netflix biographical film The Two Popes together and were both nominated for Oscars (in addition to other awards) for their performances. Here is the full One Life cast list:

  • Anthony Hopkins as Nicholas Winton

  • Johnny Flynn as younger Nicholas Winton

  • Helena Bonham Carter as Babi Winton

  • Lena Olin as Grete Winton

  • Jonathan Pryce as Martin Blake

  • Ziggy Heath as younger Martin Blake

  • Romola Garai as Doreen Warriner

  • Alex Sharp as Trevor Chadwick

  • Samantha Spiro as Esther Rantzen

Where is One Life being filmed?

One Life was filmed in London and Prague in 2022. 

Who is the team behind One Life? 

One Life is directed by James Hawes, in his feature film debut. Hawes has worked extensively as a television director since the 1990s. His previous work includes episodes of Doctor Who, Black Mirror and Snowpiercer. Hawes also has another film in production called The Amateur. Starring Rami Malek, Rachel Brosnahan and Caitriona Balfe, the film is scheduled for release in November 2024.

The screenplay was written by Lucinda Coxon and Nick Drake. Coxon has worked extensively in theatre, and also wrote the screenplay for The Danish Girl. The film is produced by The King’s Speech creators Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, alongside Joanna Laurie and Guy Heeley.

One Life premieres in UK cinemas on January 1, 2024.