I Am David



Beautiful, gentle adaptation of classic novel.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: April 21, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

David lies for self-protection, but behaves nobly and rescues a girl from a fire.


Beatings and a shooting at the camp are strongly hinted but not directly shown. Protesters clash with police. David is given a bloody nose by an older boy, who later apologizes.


A scene of David bathing, nothing shown clearly.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A guard smokes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is intense but family-friendly. Sensitive and younger kids might be disturbed by beatings and a shooting at the labor camp, which are are strongly hinted but not directly shown. Also, protesters clash with police and David is given a bloody nose by an older boy, who later apologizes.

What's the story?

Adapted from Ann Holm's book, I AM DAVID follows the story of the titular David, who grows up in a Bulgarian labor camp in the 1950s. He doesn't know why he is there or what happened to his family, of whom he has only flashes of memory. At the age of twelve an escape is arranged for him (by whom and for what reasons are only revealed near the end of the movie), and he is told to make his way alone across the frontier with Greece, south to Salonika, stow away in a boat headed for Italy, and then head north to Denmark. David travels alone through a world he has never experienced, following the only advice he was given: "Trust no one." Along the way, as he evades capture, meets people, and begins to understand how the world works, his past is revealed in rapid flashbacks of memory, centering on a pivotal event in the camp, more and more details of which are revealed as the movie progresses.

Is it any good?


This is a lovely movie, beautifully filmed by Paul Feig in locations throughout Europe. The real problem faced by anyone trying to adapt this very interior book (see our review of North to Freedom) is finding a boy who can carry it off, and newcomer Ben Tibber portrays David with a heartbreakingly bleak and lonely nobility. He actually has few lines, so he accomplishes this primarily through posture and a remarkably readable face. Jim Caviezel does sterling work as Johannes, the only friend David has ever had; and Joan Plowright is warmly touching as Sophie, an elderly artist David meets along the way. Feig, who also wrote the script, partially solves central flaw in the book (where the plot turns on a huge and unlikely Dickensian coincidence) by turning it into a smaller, but still unlikely, coincidence.

But the movie is not without its own flaws, chief among them its too-short length (90 minutes), which leaves too much unexplained or missing entirely. The DVD contains many deleted scenes that should have been left in. Nevertheless, this is a thoughtful, intellectually and emotionally rich, and gently beautiful movie that, while aimed at children, doesn't for one moment condescend to them. It's a solid and moving attempt at filming a wonderful, but almost unfilmable classic children's book.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the communist bloc in the 50s, forced labor camps in eastern Europe after WWII, the plight of refugees, and following David's route on a map. The DVD provides helpful extras, including a map of David's route and information about real-life modern child refugees. Families can also talk about the DVD's extras, including a map of David's route and information about real-life modern child refugees.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 5, 2005
DVD release date:April 5, 2005
Cast:Ben Tibber, James Caviezel, Joan Plowright
Director:Paul Feig
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, History
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements and violent content

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

This book is soooooooooooo cool

This film was really interesting. Somtimes it made me laugh, somtimes it made me cry and somtimes it made me excited. I felt a whole arrey of feelings when I read "I am David! Also the book makes you realise when they did have captivity homes how they felt and about the conditions tha they were living in! Thank you to the auther of "I am David" for the best book i've read for ages. From Phoebe, (age 11, 12/03/08, Northallerton, England)
Kid, 10 years old May 23, 2013


beautiful, just beautiful I saw this movie in school. My class teacher put it on for us, we had just finished the book. And my god what a movie, when it was over me and my friend started sobbing our eye out. Everyone stared at us we were so embarrassed. But this is a beautiful movie, that should be watched by everyone.
Adult Written byshishkabob_nat April 9, 2008


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