Frankly I’m surprised there wasn’t much buzz about the movie The Giver, considering how much attention the book was given through the years! The novel, a 1993 American children’s novel by Lois Lowry won the 1994 Nobel Prize award and has sold more than 10 million copies. In Australia, Canada, and the United States, it is a part of many middle school reading lists, but it is also on many challenged book lists and appeared on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books of the 1990s. (Wikipedia)
When I first read The Giver a few years ago I was mildly impressed even though my friends and family insisted I had to read it. The book itself is simply written and one can actually finish the novel in a day. The story follows a young man’s journey in a dystopian society where life is regulated so that no pain or sorrow is ever experienced, aside from the one person (the Giver) who is assigned to remember, so that no one else has to. When the teenager Jonas discovers that he’s been chosen to take the Giver’s place, and be mentored by the only man who knows what life was like before, Jonas experiences the long lost human emotions of sorrow, loss, joy, laughter, color, that has been sealed away from the rest of society.
I can understand full well why this story won a Nobel Prize. Not so much for it’s writing value (an extremely linear plot line), but for its concept and philosophy.
I wondered, before I made my way to the theater, whether or not the film would follow the book. I did want to read the story again before I saw the movie but was not able to pick up a copy to do so. Therefore I walked in the theater with only my memory of the novel.
Surprisingly, the movie sparked the images I saw while reading the story. And though I still don’t have a copy, I would say the motion picture follows the book so well that it actually reminded me how I felt about the book, which was…interesting story and something to thing about, although the concept is, this day and age, almost cliche.
Much of the front half of the film is shot in black and white, introducing color only as Jonas begins to see life the way it once was, which I found well done and true to the story. The screenplay must have taken many quotations from the novel because one of the criticism I had of the book is that it comes across a bit ‘preachy’. The philosophy is spelled out. So true in the film.
On the other hand, I enjoyed the story all over again. Brenton Thwaits does a wonderful job portraying the young man Jonas, pulling the viewer into the story and caring for what happens to him.
And of course it was a thrill to see Meryl Streep again!
The story behind Jeff Bridges in that he had planned on producing this movie years ago when his father Lloyd Bridges was still alive and was to be cast as the Giver, adds to the sentimentality of the piece. Jeff Bridges takes his father’s place in the role.
Though the Giver isn’t a great motion picture, it does the story justice and is one worth seeing and having your children watch.