The Giver, the next dystopian book-turned-movie, came to theaters August 15th of this year. In this film, as in the novel it was based on, protagonist Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, lives in a seemingly perfect, free-of-crime-death-and meaning world. He has relationships with friends and family-like figures, but unlike the other characters in the movie, Jonas understands that there is something wrong in this world. The lack of color, emotion, and meaning, which is blaringly obvious to the viewer from the moment the movie starts, becomes clear to Jonas as soon as he encounters The Giver, the mysterious character played by Jeff Bridges, whose job it is to open his eyes.
Lois Lowry’s book has been well loved for decades by middle school and high school classrooms as well as booklovers of all ages. While this new movie may seem like a well-done portrayal by those who have heard of the book or SparkNoted their way through it in grade school, many of the scenes were created by the writers of the movie rather than the writer of the original book. In and of itself, the movie was credible in many ways. Well-cast and well-directed, The Giver was not overcomplicated with love triangles or flashy special effects that are used to catch viewers in many of the newer versions of this failed-utopian-turned-dystopian theme. While in many ways the film did not sell out, just by trying to fit into the big screen, it ended up doing so. A romantic relationship, for example, was added to the general plot, forcing the protagonists to be older and more physically appealing than their literary counterparts. However the largest change may have been found in the ending which, although I won’t spoil it, is an actual ending. Where the classic novel left us hanging, director Noyce gave us a conclusion that we could live with and won’t keep us up at night like Lowry’s book.
Overall, The Giver was a well-made movie when it stands alone, but a comparison to the book on which it was based is difficult because of the significant differences found in some of the key themes and plot points.