A boy travels alone on a journey to safety and freedom, and the viewer goes along for the transformation.
David is about twelve years old, and he has spent his young life in a Communist work camp because his parents were dissidents. As the story begins he is given one chance to get away and journey to freedom through Greece, to Italy and then north, ultimately to Denmark--all alone. We see the child go from a bleak and dangerous world to places of color and human decency.
Life in a work camp means pointless work, punishment and rudimentary survival. In the story we see how David has never learned how to get along in society and never met anyone in a uniform that could be trusted. Nor has he handled money or played with other children. On his journey he meets strangers of many kinds. Some are definitely similar to what he left behind. Others have good intentions but David doesn't know how to believe in them.
Finally he meets someone he trusts, and his world opens up.
This movie stops short of the violin music and other devices that would make this a children's movie. The pacing and articulation of the story lend it weight. Everyone who watches this movie can get something from it, including anyone who can appreciate love, loss, sacrifice and great music.
The end of this story will test the viewer's level of openness to higher, multi-layered meaning. Only those who consider themselves too sophisticated for a basic human truth, will miss the exquisite beauty of the ending. For a movie that speaks the truth, be it the tough reality of communism or honesty about the human soul, a PG rating seems too tame, but Truth should never be too much to tell to children.