I Am David

2004, Movie, PG, 95 mins

Review

I AM DAVID
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Once you've treated the kids to all the movies they've been demanding to see this holiday season, why not try this excellent adaptation of Danish author Anne Holm's acclaimed 1963 children's novel, North to Freedom. While probably not suitable for the wee ones, older kids and most adults will love this exciting and heartfelt adventure of one boy's survival during the darkest days of post-war Europe. Twelve-year-old David (the extraordinary young British actor Ben Tibber) has been in a Eastern-European labor camp for so long he can barely remember the day his parents were arrested for their subversive politics; the strongest memory he has of his mother is a warm, pretty face (Maria Bonnevie) smiling down on him from over his bed. The closest thing to a parent David has for the past 10 years is Johannes (Jim Caviezel), a fellow prisoner who tries to protect the boy as best he can. One night David is advised that if were ever to attempt an escape from the miserable camp, now is the time. A bundle containing a compass, a precious piece of soap and a hardened scrap of bread have been left for him right outside the camp walls; all David needs to do is get past the guards and through the barbed wire. Miraculously, he makes it and after dodging the guards at the border, he finally reaches the sea where he secretly boards a freighter bound for Italy. With no food or money and nothing but the compass and a crude map of Italy he's torn from a can of tomatoes to guide him, David must somehow make his way all the way north through Italy and across Europe to the one place he's been told he'll be safe: Denmark. It's pretty serious sounding stuff, and writer-director Paul Feig (creator of the cult TV favorite Freaks and Geeks) does nothing to minimize the desperation of David's situation; he's in very real danger of either starving to death or falling into the hands of the authorities. His journey, however, is full of adventure and touches of fantasy that should appeal to kids, particularly after David saves the life of a very pretty — and very rich — young Italian girl and finds himself the guest of honor at a lavish country villa. And if David's encounter with a British widow (Joan Plowright) whose own son died when he was about David's age doesn't bring a tear to your jaded adult eye, you might be dead inside. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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