Based on six documentary films shot between 1980 and 1999, "The Boy David Story" is a compressed retelling of the remarkable tale of David Lopez. He is the Peruvian boy who was abandoned as a baby in the Amazon jungle due to a disfigurement that left him without a nose, or upper jaw, and with a massive hole in the centre of his face.
Rescued from a pauper's hospital in Lima by a Swiss charity worker, David is flown to Glasgow, where plastic surgeon Ian Jackson undertakes a series of groundbreaking operations to restore his facial features. Eventually, David becomes a cause célèbre as the Jackson family decide to adopt him. They journey out to the Peruvian jungle to find his parents in a race against the bureaucratic clock.
Spanning 20 years, this remarkable documentary is witness to the strength of 'the boy David' and the Jacksons' sheer force of will in the face of adversity.
Yet it also raises interesting questions about the documentary format itself. Why is it that David is only interviewed after he's become a (thoroughly Americanised) man? Why don't we hear from the ten-year boy about the pain and terror he went through on the operating table? Why wasn't David reunited with his biological parents when his (not yet) adoptive mother travelled out to Peru to find his birth certificate ("I don't want to give him back" she candidly admits)? And how much of Ian Jackson's successful career was based on his work on David?
It's these questions that "The Boy David Story" fails to answer. Instead it concentrates on the more visceral, and less controversial, interpretation of the story as a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. This makes for a remarkable, but ultimately unsatisfying film.
"The Boy David Story" is released in the UK on Friday 12th September 2003.