Welcome to my Quest for Good Movies!

Many of us have grown increasingly weary of having our intelligences insulted, our values assaulted, or our sensibilities offended by the typical Hollywood fare.

Is it possible to find movies that meet the standard of the 13th Article of Faith, being "of good report or praiseworthy"?

Happily, fine films can be found. My intent with this blog is to share with you some worthy examples.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

"I Am David"

Since I am a mother of two sons, I watched the movie, “I Am David,” from the perspective of a mother of a young boy. Twelve-year-old David had spent most of his life as a prisoner in a Communist concentration camp in Bulgaria following the end of World War II. The only memory he had of his life before the camp was of his mother. In his recurring memory, she looks at him with loving eyes, and says, “I love you David.” He also remembers the last time he saw her. She was screaming as she was forcefully dragged away from him. And, as he watched the gates of the camp slam closed behind her, she disappeared from his life forever.

During his years living in the camp, David is befriended by Johannes, played by Jim Caviezel. One of the most moving scenes in the movie is when David’s mentor and substitute father-figure, Johannes, takes the blame for stealing a bar of soap which was actually stolen by David. The thief is to be shot. The guard (“the man”) sees Johannes slip the bar of soap from David’s hand into his own. As the guard’s eyes meet Johannes’ eyes, there is a slight nod as both seem to acknowledge that someone must die. In spite of knowing that David really stole the soap, the guard shoots Johannes who voluntarily gave his life to save the boy’s life. Later in the movie, David and the “grandmother-figure,” Sophie, pause by a mountain cemetery in the Alps and then David enters a church where a choir is practicing singing a Requiem. During these experiences, David remembers and thinks about his friend and mentor who died for him.

The movie is based on a 1963 novel written by Anne Holm. The movie, of course, takes liberties with the original story line. I am grateful that the boy’s journey as depicted in the movie was not nearly so long and treacherous as was depicted in the novel. And, while it was known from the beginning in the book, in the surprise ending of the movie, we learn that it was the guard who had shot Johannes who actually helped David escape from the camp, so that he could journey to Denmark to find his mother.

The most praiseworthy elements of the movie depicted the selfless sacrifice of his life by Johannes, and the grandmotherly loving kindness and gentleness of Sophie. David’s journey of discovery of himself and the world at large is less well depicted. But, the deep soul-scarred pain of this young boy is convincingly portrayed, and the beginning of healing of those scars through the kindness of strangers is touching. Helping David escape, was an act of “repentance” by the guard; in my eyes, he partially redeemed himself. The depiction of the strangers who were suspicious of him and cruel or heartless, caused me to reflect on my own suspicions—am I cruel or heartless to those unlike me? I would hope that I would be kind and gentle like Sophie, rather than fear someone I don’t understand.

At the back of my mind as I watched the movie, I had my doubts about a 12-year-old successfully traveling from Bulgaria, through Greece, to Italy and then on to Switzerland. However, I easily attributed his improbable success to the hand of God in his life. On one occasion, he “prays” to St. Elizabeth for safety. Later, at the mountain church, he seems to feel the Spirit as the choir sings, and then immediately afterward, he miraculously ‘finds’ his mother pictured on the cover of a book. This leads directly to his reunion with his mother.

The movie was released in 2003. I obtained a copy of the DVD from my local public library.

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