Movie and Book Review: The Giver

The Giver is in my Top 5 list of all-time favorite books, which is a huge compliment as I love reading and have hundreds of books under my belt. Dystopia books are my favorite kind to read, and Lois Lowry does a great job of writing an introduction to the topic for young adults.

The giver chairs
Photo credit: The Giver

The Giver follows a”teenager named Jonas as he transitions into adulthood and his new role in the adult society. While everyone around him receives normal jobs such as taking care of babies or the elderly, teaching or flying planes, Jonas is named the next Receiver of Memory. You see, in this futuristic utopian society, people have decided that memories and human experiences cause too much sadness and pain. So they simply opt out. With the help of a magical force field that keeps the memories in and pills taken every day to suppress colors, emotions and natural human urges, the society lives in a gray and bland perfect world. But once Jonas starts receiving memories from The Giver of”joy, sadness, snow, holidays, friendship, nature, weather and love, he realizes that it is all too beautiful to keep to himself.

As you all know, The Giver was recently made into a movie starting Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes. With all the trepidation of someone who has seen too many wonderful books be butchered by their movie versions, I went to Pacific Theatres in Culver City to see the show.

Photo credit: The Giver
Photo credit: The Giver

All in all, I think The Giver (movie) was great! It stuck to the plot of the book pretty well. The movie took some liberties, as with the character of Fiona’s involvement and with the implied evilness (not ignorance) of Mother, as well as with the landscape that the society is placed in. However, I was really pleased with how the movie presented the story.

My favorite thing about the movie is that it is shot in grayscale. SPOILER ALERT – there are no colors in the utopian society, and all people are the same color and race. But as Jonas learns the color red, red shows up in a bowl of apples, so vibrant and beautiful. This is exactly how it happened in the book, and seeing it on screen was surreal.

Photo credit: The Giver
Photo credit: The Giver

I think Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites and Alexander Skarsgard were all perfectly cast. I was not a fan of the casting of Jeff Bridges, however. In my mind, The Giver is more of a wise old man, Dumbledore or Gandolf-esque character than the belligerent, bumbling character that Jeff Bridges always portrays no matter what his role. But the casting wasn’t poor enough to ruin the movie.
CONCLUSION: The Giver movie is a relatively faithful, well-produced retelling of the classic novel. You should go see it. And anyone who hasn’t read the book MUST do so as soon as humanly possible.

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