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4.0 out of 5 stars27
4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 2 February 2011
A wonderful film with a beautiful ending. Joan Plowright's performance and the character of Sophie, brilliantly portrayed, brings the film to a most endearing and very touching end. Sophie's love for David, [probably matured from her own very sad loss of her little son] gives him space to open up in that love, and as a result, to be able to fall into the arms of his too-long missed and dearly loved mum. I think David is adorable. It's not easy to act the part of a child traumatised by incarceration and abuse, but we see him in his struggles, in his determination not to be caught and returned, and responding to Sophie's love; a really good performance of David, and a great film. I recommend it.
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on 19 September 2007
"I Am David" is a low-budget but finely crafted story of an 11 year old boy who has spent most of his short life in a Bulgarian Gulag during the horrors of the Stalin era. He escapes, with the help of his mentor Johannes, and the head officer of the forced labor camp, and is told to "Trust no one." Writer/director Paul Feig based his film on the bestseller "North to Freedom" by Anne Holm, and the script is intelligent and has sensitivity and depth. David makes his way through Greece and Italy, and into Switzerland, with the constant fear that he will be returned to the labor camp.

The cast is excellent, with Ben Tibber as the stoic and courageous David, and Joan Plowright, who adds to her lifetime of flawless performances here with the portrayal of Sophie, an artist who teaches David to trust in life and humanity. In the small but pivotal part of Johannes, Jim Caviezel is marvelous. This was filmed before he played Jesus in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," and some other actors in "The Passion" are also in "I Am David," notably Hristo Shopov (who was Pontius Pilate) as the head officer, and Francesco De Vito (Peter) as Roberto the sailor/truck driver. Director Feig has a cameo as an American whose car runs out of gas, in one of the more humorous scenes in the film.

The DVD features are good, and include interviews with producers and actors on how the film was planned and made, deleted scenes, and interesting commentary by Feig, where he shows us just how stringent his budget was, and how he had to cut corners. Despite the financial limitations, this is an inspiring film, as well as an entertaining one. "I Am David" makes wonderful family viewing, and will give younger audiences a glimpse into the Gulags behind the Iron Curtain of the early 1950s, and how the human spirit can conquer adversity.
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on 11 May 2013
A parody of what is one of the most beautiful books ever written. This was always going to be a hard film to make, as the book is so much about the thoughts and feelings inside a boy's mind. However, even the basics are not done well in this film - there's good action in the book but the film doesn't even stay true to what could be easily reproduced; the story is changed where there's no need to change it and there is no real insight into David's thoughts. His whole character is mis-represented by the film (eg in the book where he first enters a house, he is overwhelmed by the beauty of the dining table and the very food he eats, and goes to great pains to preserve that beauty, getting annoyed by the children who are careless and get food on the table ... while in the film you see him clumsily and very carelessly chucking his spaghetti all over the place!!)

This was so awful I couldn't bear watching it - gave up about a quarter of the way through. If you've read the book, don't bother - this film will disappoint you terribly. If you've watched this film already, don't be discouraged - read the book for a wholly different and better experience!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 15 January 2012
This is a film version of the book of the same name (or `North To Freedom' in the States) by Anna Holm first published in 1963. As a child I read the book and could not remember all of it so was pleasantly surprised by this independent effort from director Paul Feig. David (Ben Tibber) is a 12 year old prisoner in a Bulgarian Gulag and the year is 1952. He can only ever remember life in the camp, but has fleeting memories of someone he knows loved him, but he can not seem to articulate why. The past is revealed in flash backs throughout the film and adds layers to the story

In the camp he has a friend Johannes -Jim Caviezel - who has very little on screen time actually. Life in the camp is unremitting and awful, so David is helped to escape. He has a sealed letter and is told to search for a bundle outside the fence. In it he finds some bread, water, a compass and a penknife. He is told to get to Salonika and then keep heading north until he gets to Denmark. There is one part when the truck he is hiding in gets stopped by the State Police and the other free riders are chucked off - the police says `You want to escape this paradise?' I am pretty sure that he is being sarcastic.

Any way David has to live by his wits and meets many people along the way, realising that sometimes you can trust and other times you most certainly can not. Ben Tibber does a great performance as David, who has to learn a lot of normal things even how to smile. In the book he has learnt a lot of languages from being in the camp, this he uses to blend in with the people he comes across, it is done all in English in the film with a nod that they are speaking another tongue - which may annoy some people, but it avoids sub titles. Along the way he discovers religion and a lot more besides.

This is a well made and acted independent film that was made with a lot of love. You can see that in the extras that includes interviews with cast and crew. I was totally absorbed and got a bit dewy eyed at a couple of points, but it is both endearing and heart warming - I might even re read the book now.
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on 10 October 2011
The ending of this film is a real tear-jerker, and though elements of the script are not really credible, the general thrust is not unreasonable as in the aftermath of the WWII there were huge migrations of population across the European continent. While I accept that the accent of the actor playing the boy is pure English, trying to mimic a hotchpotch of different accents would have resulted in nothing more than a pastiche. The viewer can easily fill in the gap for him or herself. Joan Plowright is excellent in the role of Sophie.
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on 6 March 2010
A lovely warm-hearted film which I would recommend for grandparents and children over 8 to watch together as the children may have questions to ask. My grandchildren were spellbound by it and so was I.
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on 13 August 2012
It is a long time since I read the book, I Am David, but every bit of it returned to me, as I watched the DVD. It is perhaps more shocking in its visual impact but definitely true to the deep story it tells. The ending is slightly truncated but I can understand why this is so. It does not take from the power of the story at all. What holds this film together is the excellent presence of Ben Tibber. He never falters, as he embodies his role, bringing it to an even deeper place of understanding. What I found shocking was that the story is set in post-war Europe, not during World War 11, as I had previously understood. The twentieth century saw the worst of human nature being enacted. We need to tell the full story, so as not to repeat it.
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on 13 February 2013
Some might consider the story a bit weak in parts, but what makes this film a "must see" is the fantastic acting of the boy who plays the leading part.
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on 26 September 2013
This is a very nice film if you are not looking for a true copy of the book. I thought it would be very hard to make a film of this story because so much of it is in the descriptions and really it leaves out SO much and changes other things. It was disappointing for me but I was not surprised, I would not give the dvd to a child who I thought might read the book. I don't really know what to say, They are just not the same but perhaps the best the script writer could do. The horrors and love of this story can only be in words in my opinion.
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on 8 February 2013
This film of the book is rather different, making one feel for David in his isolation from the real world (with it's good and evil sides). The young actor, Ben Tibber, plays the character of David with an intersting perception of someone who cannot and does not trust anyone. His friendships, that he eventually has, are with many different people that highlight the either very concerned to the apathtic feelings of the people he meets. The book is more intense and fearful, the film comes across as more of being in a dreamlike state.
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