Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Nicky's Family

A great true story and a great man come together in this real heart-warmer of a documentary.

July 18, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1381308-Nickys_Family_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Unknown to many, there was indeed another “Schindler’s List.” This one occurred in Prague, and the name of the man in question was Nicholas Winton, who, as young British stockbroker, took it upon himself to rescue some 669 children of Czech and Slovak descent from concentration-camp fates by arranging their transport to Britain.

Matej Minac’s heartfelt and very moving documentary Nicky’s Family profiles the man and the fraught time in which he pulled off this life-saving coup, fully capturing the excitement and daring of his deed. (Even the re-enactments Minac uses are, for once, vivid and helpful and not grating anachronisms.) Prague is presented as it originally was before the Nazis, like Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest a freethinking cosmopolitan capital of sophistication and culture. The prescience of Winton, who sensed the horror to come in 1938, is impressive, and even more so is the deft and clear-eyed facility with which he carried out his mission, doing everything it took, including forging documents to, as he now says, “bamboozle the Germans.”

Yes, amazingly, Winton is still alive at age 104, rightfully knighted and interviewed extensively here. Even more amazing is the jaw-dropping modesty which largely kept his story from the public. It was only when his wife discovered a scrapbook on their estate, filled with details of his actions, that she herself came to know this secret he had kept for 50 years. He’s a truly terrific old guy, inspirationally active today, with his gardening, embroidery, even taking to the air, and unstoppable good works. His innate deep humanity and humor are undiminished, as he recounts the speeding tickets he gets for driving, telling police he had to make a rush for the loo.

Also wonderfully interviewed are the overwhelmingly grateful children he saved, now in advanced age themselves. In an exhaustive mission to find their whereabouts and round them up, 250 responses were received. One hundred of them come together at a celebratory surprise reunion at which, for the first time, Winton meets them again, and I defy anyone to watch this segment dry-eyed. Many of these survivors have gone on to eminent lives as politicians, doctors and teachers and, with their own children and children’s children, many dedicated to following in their benefactor’s humanistic efforts, it is now estimated that Winton’s extended “family”—who all owe their very existence to him—numbers 5,700.


Film Review: Nicky's Family

A great true story and a great man come together in this real heart-warmer of a documentary.

July 18, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1381308-Nickys_Family_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Unknown to many, there was indeed another “Schindler’s List.” This one occurred in Prague, and the name of the man in question was Nicholas Winton, who, as young British stockbroker, took it upon himself to rescue some 669 children of Czech and Slovak descent from concentration-camp fates by arranging their transport to Britain.

Matej Minac’s heartfelt and very moving documentary Nicky’s Family profiles the man and the fraught time in which he pulled off this life-saving coup, fully capturing the excitement and daring of his deed. (Even the re-enactments Minac uses are, for once, vivid and helpful and not grating anachronisms.) Prague is presented as it originally was before the Nazis, like Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest a freethinking cosmopolitan capital of sophistication and culture. The prescience of Winton, who sensed the horror to come in 1938, is impressive, and even more so is the deft and clear-eyed facility with which he carried out his mission, doing everything it took, including forging documents to, as he now says, “bamboozle the Germans.”

Yes, amazingly, Winton is still alive at age 104, rightfully knighted and interviewed extensively here. Even more amazing is the jaw-dropping modesty which largely kept his story from the public. It was only when his wife discovered a scrapbook on their estate, filled with details of his actions, that she herself came to know this secret he had kept for 50 years. He’s a truly terrific old guy, inspirationally active today, with his gardening, embroidery, even taking to the air, and unstoppable good works. His innate deep humanity and humor are undiminished, as he recounts the speeding tickets he gets for driving, telling police he had to make a rush for the loo.

Also wonderfully interviewed are the overwhelmingly grateful children he saved, now in advanced age themselves. In an exhaustive mission to find their whereabouts and round them up, 250 responses were received. One hundred of them come together at a celebratory surprise reunion at which, for the first time, Winton meets them again, and I defy anyone to watch this segment dry-eyed. Many of these survivors have gone on to eminent lives as politicians, doctors and teachers and, with their own children and children’s children, many dedicated to following in their benefactor’s humanistic efforts, it is now estimated that Winton’s extended “family”—who all owe their very existence to him—numbers 5,700.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Calvary
Film Review: Calvary

An invidious, enervating piece of work blessedly relieved by Brendan Gleeson’s empathetic portrayal of a worldly priest confronting the sins of the world. More »

Rich Hill
Film Review: Rich Hill

This study of teens trying to make it in a very depressed and depressing heartland would have benefited from more hard info and less pictorial meandering. More »

Child of God
Film Review: Child of God

Depravity abounds in this James Franco-directed adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, which despite a committed performance by Scott Haze proves a one-note endurance test. More »

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
Film Review: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

A return to the stripped–down ferocity of Eli Roth's no-frills 2002 shocker, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (which the title suggests is a prequel, though it doesn't really feel like one) lacks originality but delivers the body-horror goods far better than genre minimalist Ti West's Cabin Fever 2: Spring Break (2009), a broadly campy spin on ’70s high-school horror clichés. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here