"Journey to Freedom"
I AM DAVID follows the riveting journey of a 12-year-old boy who escapes from a Communist death camp in 1952 Bulgaria. The script is based on the internationally acclaimed Anne Holm novel, NORTH TO FREEDOM, and feels amazingly authentic. Ben Tibber, looking convincingly lost and bewildered, is absolutely terrific as David. Jim Caviezel plays Johannes, David’s friend and protector in the camp. Several other recognizable cast members from THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST also co-star.
The story opens as David narrowly escapes the electrified razor wire of the camp. Guided by the keen instruction of a friend who stayed behind, David locates a hidden satchel just beyond the view of the cruel guards. Armed with a compass, a loaf of bread and a pocket knife, he is told he must deliver a sealed envelope to Denmark. He is urged not to look at its contents. David cautiously makes his way to the coast, stows aboard a ship bound for Italy, and travels north on foot as his friend advised. Though he manages to avoid the immediate threat of re-capture, David learns that the free world is also a very dangerous place.
I AM DAVID is such a delightful tale of journeying to maturity that it is slightly disappointing when David’s adventure ends. Filled with interesting characters along the way, however, the story of his newfound freedom is fresh and captivating. As a result of his lost childhood and harrowing experiences in the concentration camp, David seems wise and resourceful beyond his years. He finds ways to earn a little money, buy some food and continue his important mission. Worldly-wise and trusting no one, David’s emotional trek really relates to his childhood innocence.
David’s difficult adjustment to the outside world is engaging and fascinating at the same time. Flashbacks reveal David’s capture and pivotal experiences in the camp. As a witness to years of brutality, his parents are a distant memory, and he struggles to trust strangers on his journey. Our hearts ache for his palpable pain.
Not surprising, I AM DAVID is filled with religious imagery and themes. Urged by a baker to pray to St. Elizabeth, the “patron saint of bakers,” David believes she may offer protection and guidance. Later, David visits a church where he listens to a choir sing a beautiful old hymn. Though entirely unaccustomed to such practices, he even eats dinner with a family who says grace before the meal. Through it all, I AM DAVID successfully mixes moments of poignant humor with scenes of pain and fear. David is surely conflicted and confused in this new world, but he would rather die than return to the horrors of the camp.
It is difficult to watch this young character struggle under the weight of his mission. David is courageous in an understated way as many people were during those dark days of Russian Communism in world history. They may have wanted to merely survive but managed to help others in the process. Though they probably thought differently, they were truly heroic.
Through his journey, David learns that he must trust others to experience true freedom. The story packs a powerful surprise that further explains David’s difficulty beyond the confines of the concentration camp.
Jim Caviezel’s presence is limited to flashback scenes, but his character lends credibility and purpose to David’s quest. Ben Tibber, blessed with naturally sad eyes and a perpetual lost look, is ideal for the role of David. Joan Plowright is wonderful, too, as the elderly painter who befriends the young boy. I AM DAVID contains beautiful cinematography and a heartwarming story. It challenges us to see goodness in people and even in a few unexpected places. Every mature media-wise viewer should experience David’s journey. The movie’s inherent themes of violence are dramatically curbed to allow a wide audience to enjoy this wholesome adventure.
(BB, CC, ACAC, C, FR, V, N, A, D, MM) Strong moral and redemptive worldview in which a young boy becomes acquainted with freedom, trust and love, including some overtly positive Christian elements such as choir sings hymn that comforts hero and family says grace before meal, with strong anti-Communist content, as well as minor false religious references to psychic energy and praying to the drawing of a saint; no obscenities or profanities, woman exclaims “Thank God!”; subdued violence includes boy climbs on barbed wire fence, guards beat men, boy falls hard against tree, men shoot rifles, boys fights and gets bloody nose, men throw rocks at police protest, execution-style shooting occurs off-screen, young boys play with matches and tie up sister, girl rescued from burning building, boy bravely faces death several times; no sex; upper male and obscured nudity as boy bathes in pond and in house; adults drink wine and smoke; and, stealing, much lying and some lies later rebuked, boy stows away on truck and ship, man accepts responsibility for boy’s theft and suffers punishment for him, boy admits “I don’t deserve anything good.”
I AM DAVID follows the riveting journey of a 12-year-old boy, David, who escapes from a Communist death camp in 1952 Bulgaria. Based on the acclaimed Anne Holm novel, NORTH TO FREEDOM, the story opens as David narrowly escapes the camp. Guided by the instruction of a friend who stayed behind, David locates a hidden satchel containing a compass, a loaf of bread and a pocket knife. He must deliver a sealed envelope to Denmark and not look at its contents. David stows aboard a ship bound for Italy and cautiously travels north on foot. Though he manages to avoid being re-captured, David learns that the free world is also a very dangerous place.
I AM DAVID is such a delightful tale. Worldly-wise and trusting no one, David’s emotional trek really relates to his childhood innocence. The story packs a powerful surprise that further explains David’s difficulty beyond the confines of the concentration camp. I AM DAVID is a heartwarming story. It challenges us to see goodness in people and even in a few unexpected places. The movie’s inherent themes of violence are dramatically curbed. Every mature media-wise viewer should experience this journey.