Saturday, December 4

Christian Dad's Movie Review:
I am David

Well, I've been to skirt around my kids wanting/getting to go to see the other two holiday films, Kranks and The Tom Hank's Express because I'm not sure I'm thrilled about injecting my kids with more of the secular Hollywood view of "the true meaning of Christmas". So, I jumped at the chance to see a "real" movie with my kids, and went off with my two daughters to I am David. To cut to the chase, I recommend the movie highly, although the subtextual message is not Christian. Click on the link below to get the synopsis and my full review.

Capsule Synopsis: David is being held in a Communist re-education camp in Bulgaria. He pulls out a letter and with a adult voice over (which repeats through the film), the voice directs him on how to escape from the camp. He has been told that he must get to Denmark. He doesn't know why. He flees across the border to Greece and then jumps ship to Italy. Once in Italy, he is forced to move amongst the outskirts of society. Finally, outside of Milan he meets a nice elderly Swiss matron who after painting his portrait takes him across the border to her home and village. After spending some time with her. They discover that a book he has seen was written by his mother, who living in Denmark, is the goal he seeks. Mother and son are re-united.

On his way, David makes several significant encounters upon which wish to comment:
  • He meets a baker. This baker tries to turn him over to the authorities, who unbeknownst to David, would probably have reunited him much quicker with his mom. But David has only received beatings and witnessed shootings from men in uniform. He flees. David is given a small card bearing a painting of St. Elizabeth, who we are informed is the patron saint of bakers, but will help any in need. In fact, David comes to believe that the small icon has mystical properties for he prays to it, and his prayers are answered.
  • David sees a burning shed and hears screams. He runs in an rescues a young girl (his age) who is bound inside the shed. He frees her, and they escape overcome by smoke fumes. He spends a few days with her family. He sneaks out in the night, leaving the icon at her bedstead because he feels St. Elizabeth is too "good" for her.
  • Throughout he film, via flashbacks, we are introduced to David's one friend in the camp. This friend tells David that although life in the camp is terrible, they must always strive for a better life and the life can be good, in fact in most places it is so. This friend admits to being too scared to try to escape, which David yearns to do. Finally, this friend in a crisis in the camp, gives his own voluntarily so that David not be killed. It is this the memory of this sacrifice which helps David persevere at times when he is despairing and tired.
  • Finally, in the Swiss village, David has some time to himself. He wanders around and is drawn to an organ playing in a church. There he sees a small parish choir rehearsing Brahms (the German Requiem I think). David is captivated. This on of several times in the film in which David is drawn in by beauty. Then a policeman steps in a watches with him. David is terrified, but tries not to show it. The policemen does not fulfill David's expectations of how armed guards behave, and acts more how one would expect in a small quite Swiss village. That is to say, he is quite friendly. I think it is then, that David starts to realize that the world is not all filled with the hellish places which make up his personal experiences.

This film is excellent. It gives children much to ponder, and shows them in a not too unkindly fashion that man can in fact be very inhumane to his fellow man. For the adults, allegorical threads abound. I have only seen the movie once and don't know if the film stands up to serious study, but at least the idea can be entertained, unlike much we see from our filmmakers today.

Well, upon getting home from the movie, Mrs Pseudo-Polymath tells me that while we were at the film, she spent some time looking at film reviews and the consensus among many of the reviews was that the movie was not believable. Now let's face it, we watch the Incredible Hulk and two X-Men and Spiderman movies, which don't get the same remarks. And then, they try to pretend that believability is an important part of the aesthetic they use to judge a film's worth. Methinks they doth protest too much.