In 1993, Lois Lowry wrote the world of dystopian future in a way that children could understand. Most of these tales were saved for adults reading science fiction, making statements to people who had already grown into their world. The Giver gets on the level of the younger generation helping them develop real ideas about free will, love, and hate. This novel is a segue for future authors such as Suzanne Collins. This Newbery Medal winning book is the latest in YA adaptions.
The big screen adaptation brings the story of Jonah to life. As he graduates from school, Jonah learns a lot about his world he never knew. Set in the future, the peaceful Community follows specific rules that keep people from deviating from the norm and doing anything that could crush the delicate peace. The Community knows that it must not forget the past, and designates one person to be the Receiver of Memories. Jonah is chosen as the next Keeper, and he trains with the current Keeper. Jonah learns about colors, love, war and free will. He realizes that the Community is not as perfect as it claims to be.
The Giver has faced a lot of criticism for its lack of thrills. But this movie is not The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies. The central themes are about peace and free will. It is a statement about violence without using violence to combat it. Jonah is motivated by love to change the world. He sees the whole spectrum of what can happen when humans have emotions and he decides it’s a gift people need. The book is twenty years old but it still applies today. We have a lack of empathy for our fellow man as a society and often fall on negative emotions and rely on violence as our answer.
The movie is also visually attractive and different from others in the genre. The Community starts in black and white and colors only revel themselves as Jonah learns about them. This gives a very organic feel to how one dimensional the society is. Unlike many dystopian socials, the set is not barren and desolate. The homes look futuristic but real, and there is plant life prominently featured. This set dressing gives a distinguished look of a very different kind of story.
The Giver is a poignant story that deals in emotions. Emotions of the characters as well as emotions of the viewer. Seeing the world again through Jonah’s eyes gives hope. And that is the true gift of The Giver.