In the footsteps of a hero: Anthony Hopkins as Nicholas Winton

In the footsteps of a hero: Anthony Hopkins as Nicholas Winton

The birth of a Hollywood story in Czechia.

In the footsteps of a hero: Anthony Hopkins as Nicholas Winton
It's a Hollywood story, so it had to be tackled by a star filmmaker. The new movie One Life tells the story of Nicholas Winton. The story of the British banker who saved 669 children, mostly Jewish, from being deported from occupied Czechoslovakia to Germany. That miracle happened in Prague, and the saviour was played by world-famous actor Anthony Hopkins. Come and see the places where Winton left his mark.

It's early 1939, and twenty-nine-year-old British stockbroker Nicholas Winton arrives in pre-war Prague. Those few days that this likeable bespectacled fellow spent in Prague would change not only his own life, but especially the lives of hundreds of children he saved from certain death. Yet the world knew nothing of his deed for fifty long years. It wasn't until 1988 that words that would go down in more than just television history were heard on an episode of a BBC TV show.

BBC Programme "That's Life" aired in 1988.

Follow in Winton's footsteps

This biographical drama, with Anthony Hopkins starring alongside leading names such as Johnny Flynn and Helena Bonham Carter, was shot by director James Hawes in several authentic locations around Prague, at tourist hotspots including Hradčany in front of the Tuscany Palace and in Kanovnická Street. You can follow in the footsteps of the filmmakers and Winton himself by visiting the Mánes Bridge across the queen of Czechia’s rivers, the Vltava, or venturing into the mysterious streets of old Prague, Josefov, and Pohořelec.

Statue of Nicholas Winton at Prague’s main railway station.

Scenes were also shot at Prague’s main railway station, where a touching and photogenic sculpture on Platform 1 pays homage to this extraordinary story. It shows a man with distinctive glasses and two children “waiting for the train”. For the backdrop of the pre-war London railway station, the filmmakers used the station in the gorgeous Czech city of Liberec in the foothills of the mountains.

During his last visit to Prague, Sir Nicholas Winton himself called in at the beautiful Art Nouveau Hotel Evropa. We heartily recommend stopping off here while you're in Prague!

Trailer One Life (Warner Bros.)

Me and the hero?!

From March to August 1939, Winton in England and his colleagues in Czechoslovakia managed to organise eight transports by train from Prague’s main railway station. The children travelled in sealed wagons, through Germany to England. The young hero and his associates saved a total of 669 children. They included the ever-elegant Milena Grenfell-Baines. The Czech woman who brought a Czech invention to England, the remoska, a small portable electric oven.

Archive photo of Nicholas Winton.

A secret hidden in the attic

After the war, Sir Nicholas Winton returned to his job as a clerk and kept his Czechoslovak adventure hidden in a box in the attic of his house, where the dusty documents were found by his daughter years later. He lived to the venerable age of 106. In recognition of his actions, he was knighted and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Winton's children” and their descendants still meet regularly to this day.

Sir Nicholas Winton at Prague Castle, before receiving the Order of the White Lion (2014).
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