Some have called “The Giver” an underdog at the box office, since the summertime is known for big blockbuster hits and movies with plenty of action sequences. And that’s not quite what people think of when they think about the book that author Lois Lowry is best known for.
After all, the sci-fi novel focuses on the moral struggle of Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), who becomes the “receiver” of the world’s memories, both good and bad. His job as a receiver is to protect the community and help it make important decisions. In turn, the book asks big questions like: if all pain is taken away from the world, can the world be a better place—even if it means people can no longer feel good things, like love, too?
Film adaptations of books have the ability to bring more life to already-vibrant worlds. They provide new ways of looking at the words that the authors so carefully considered. In the case of “The Giver,” this couldn’t be more true. Since the novel is a slim book—just 179 pages—there’s a lot that can be expanded upon while still doing justice to the book’s core themes and storylines.
To drive more of the action forward, and not focus solely on Jonas’s struggle, the film added new plots, such as tension between the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) and the Giver (Jeff Bridges). Of that change, Lowry gave her full blessing when she said, “[It's] not, unfortunately, in the book. I wish I could go back and add it in.”
Why else does this film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s bestselling book promise to be the best movie of the summer? While the big name stars—like Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, and Katie Holmes —are one reason, the biggest reason to go see the film is the thought-provoking, and controversial, storyline. Just as the book did for so many people over the past two decades, the movie will cause people to stop and think about why differences, feelings, and choices are important. But, and this is key, the film is at once thought-provoking as well as entertaining, as it’s been re-imagined as a thriller of sorts as Jonas rebels against what he once considered a perfect society.
Published in 1993, “The Giver” described a world that is supposed to be a utopia. But once Jonas discovers that life can be so much more—one full of color and emotions—it’s clearly more of a dystopia. In other words, the novel was dystopian fiction long before books (and their film versions), like "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent," ever came out. Classified alongside those blockbuster movies, the film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s bestselling book doesn’t seem like much of an underdog.
Is “The Giver” a more serious film than most others released during the Summer? Yes. But it also makes it stand out from the crowd of other movies out this season.
The movie comes out in theaters nationwide on August 15, 2014.
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