He Didn’t Save the World,
Just 669 Children

'Nicky's Family,' A True Story of Heroism
by Anita Gates | July 19th, 2013

In 1988 a BBC talk show, “That’s Life,” invited Nicholas Winton, then 79, to sit in the front row of the studio audience while his good works were praised. He had saved the lives of 669 children, most of them Jewish, in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia with his own personal Kindertransport. The woman sitting next to him at the show was one of them. And if you don’t feel teary when Mr. Winton learns on the air that virtually everyone in the audience that day had been one of those children, you have no heart.

The scene appears in “Nicky’s Family,” an enthralling documentary by Matej Minac that artfully tells the story of how Mr. Winton, now 104, a British stockbroker, gave up a 1938 skiing holiday to answer a friend’s request for help in Prague and didn’t stop helping until the war’s beginning stopped him. He worked frantically, placing youngsters in English homes; put away photos and documents about his project; and told nobody, not even his wife. She eventually discovered his scrapbooks in the attic; his secrecy is never fully explained.

With lovely cinematography and lively editing, the story is told in vintage black-and-white film clips that seem oddly fresh; present-day interviews; and the kind of dramatic re-creation video usually seen on basic-cable crime or ghost shows. But those scenes, shot in muted colors with hints of sepia, are surprisingly evocative. The Canadian journalist Joe Schlesinger narrates. He, too, was one of the 669.

Read the Complete Review at The New York Times!

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