The Giver: A Review
August 29, 2014 • 698 views
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When I heard that Lois Lowry’s beloved novel, The Giver, was being adapted into a movie, I couldn’t help but sigh. Yet another dystopian movie adapted from a popular novel, with a familiar plot line for those who watched Divergent and The Hunger Games: a rebellious protagonist living in a controlling society realizes that everything is not as perfect as it seems. As a massive Lois Lowry fan myself, I was reluctant to see how badly Hollywood would mess up the original material; however, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the film turned out.
It begins with the introduction of Jonas, an adolescent who is satisfied in his life of conformity – a society in which the governing body has controlled their citizens’ lives so much that they have taken away their emotions, choices, ability to see in color and even their memories from before the utopia was created.
The Giver is the only individual who has the memories, and uses this knowledge to advise the Chief Elder. When Jonas turns sixteen, he is chosen to be the next Receiver of Memories. As he is given more and more of the memories of the past – including scenes from the Arab Spring, the Vietnam War and the destruction of the Berlin Wall, a clever move which established a stronger emotional connection for me – he begins to question whether taking away the ability to choose from humans was the right thing to do. He eventually decides to go beyond the boundaries of his community and give back the memories to the individuals in the community.
Unlike the convoluted love triangles which are ever prevalent in young adult films today, The Giver is a breath of fresh air with its simple, well executed plot. Avid fans of the original material may complain that the increase of Jonas’ age from twelve to sixteen was an obvious move by the directors to attract greater audiences – but I found that the age shift of Jonas did not take away from the innocence conveyed flawlessly by Brenton Thwaites.
Also, the vague ending which made the novel so popular differs from the decisive one of the film, but the film was very much successful in capturing the spirit of Lowry’s work and reminding us of the humanity which exists in us all. In a time in which we are very cynical about where our world is going, exacerbated by the recent slew of post-apocalyptic films, The Giver reminds us, quite frankly, of why it’s awesome to be human.
All in all, for those looking for a faithful book adaptation in terms of character and plot details, this movie may not be for them. But for those who want a heart warming plot which makes us a little more optimistic about our future, The Giver is a must see.