The Greek TV made us a great present this Easter by playing “I am David”, a 2003 rather unknown movie by Paul Feig.
It seems that the most striking idea in the director’s mind (or what he or the movie company thought it would appear most impressive to the viewers’ mind), the one that could better express and promote the movie, can be summarized by the suggestion believe in the power to change your destiny. This is supported mainly by just a single scene, when the boy-hero, David, says he’d rather die than keep living in the labor camp, and his friend answers that he should find the power to change his destiny, a power that can always be found. The rest of the movie is supposed to narrate how David found the power to escape, leave Bulgaria, go to Greece, enter a boat to Italy, until he finally arrived in Denmark and reunited with his mother.
The movie never succeeded in promoting this power-concept. Despite all the difficulties, David is almost constantly helped by various persons (his co-prisoner and friend-guide, played by J. Caviezel, actually sacrifices himself for the sake of David), so that his salvation is in fact described as a gift rather than as a change-your-destiny will-power. This contradiction between the actual character of the movie and the way it was promoted, makes me think that Paul Feig was perhaps forced by his company to follow some marketing tactics. It doesn’t matter, since the value of the movie lies beyond all this.
Ben Tibber,the actor playing David, “does more acting, often without saying a word, than I have noticed in a film for a long while”, writes a reviewer at imdb. “All throughout the film, the mood of the scene is set just by the expression on his face, especially his eyes, and he can change it in an instant. I watched this young actor in total amazement.”
The movie is based on Anne Holm’s novel “North to Freedom”, and a reviewer who knows the book writes that “The film is significantly different to the novel in a few key details and yet it has managed to capture the essential soul of the novel, something I applaud and profoundly appreciate. Whilst the means of achieving the result is different, I was still left, as I always am when I read the story, with a deep sense of truth and love winning out over darkness and hatred. I was moved to tears once again and for all the same reasons and for that I would just like to say thank you to those involved.”
Another reviewer compares with ‘normal’ Hollywood movies: “This movie is a breath of fresh air from the Hollywood machine that churns out lifeless epics, tasteless comedies, and meaningless dramas in the name of money. ‘I Am David’ aims not to collect big at the box office, but to convey passion and art through cinema… Most movies these days have no redeeming value whatsoever, but with ‘David’ this is not the case. It saddens me that Americans would prefer the rehashed, regurgitated crap of Hollywood over this brilliant work of art.”