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‘The Giver’: 5 Differences between the film and the book

Author Lois Lowry's thoughts on 'The Giver' movie  and what she wishes people take from it.
Author Lois Lowry's thoughts on 'The Giver' movie and what she wishes people take from it.
Promotional Image - Walden Media

The Giver” is the newest young adult novel to get the Hollywood treatment. The film, based on the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry, is due out in theaters on Aug. 15. The process of transferring a novel into a film is complicated one and naturally a few changes between the book and the film must be made. Here we'll give an exhaustive look at five specific ways the book will differ from the movie. The film is described as:

The haunting story of "The Giver" centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined – a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all – a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before. "The Giver" is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide."

The characters are older
The characters are older Charley Gallay

The characters are older

The characters in the film version of "The Giver" are aged up to 16, which is one way the film differs from the book. This photo shows Brenton Thwaites (Jonas) at Comic-Con promotional event for "The Giver." In the novel, Jonas is 12 years old as are most of the other characters. However, for the movie, the characters are all 16, allowing for more conflict and a bit of romance.

Expanded roles
Expanded roles Promotional Image- Walden Media

Expanded roles

One major change between the book and the movie is that many characters have expanded roles. The cast features several heavy hitters such as Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift, and due to this, many of the film's characters have been given much more to do than they ever did in the novel. For example, Streep is playing the community's Chief Elder. In the novel, the Chief Elder has one or two brief scenes with no real depth to the character. In the film, the Chief Elder is the main villain who plays off of Jeff Bridges' The Giver.

More romance
More romance Promotional Image- Walden Media

More romance

One added bonus to the film versus the movie for those more inclined to romance is the added depth to the flirtation between Jonas and another girl his age, Fiona (Odeya Rush). Lowry promises that the movie won't go overboard in focusing on the relationship, but there will be a bit more to it than what's described in the book.

No grey eyes
No grey eyes Promotional Image- Walden Media

No grey eyes

In the novel, grey eyes are a distinguishing mark used to tell those in Jonas' community who shares special gifts similar to his. Lowry notes this distinction became too much of a problem when filming, as it would've required making the actors (babies and children included) wear colored contact lenses. Instead, the filmmakers came up with another way to differentiate between those with gifts from the others in the community.

More action
More action Promotional Image- Walden Media

More action

The addition of more action is perhaps the biggest difference between the book and movie versions of "The Giver." Lowry adds,

I have read screenplay after screenplay by various writers trying to adapt the book to the screen and it’s been difficult for many reasons, primarily that a bookand a movie are very different mediums. This particular book does not have a lot of action in it. Since the story takes place inside the consciousness of a boy, it is very tough to portray that on the screen. What they needed was a script that would stay true to the themes of the book, but also add an action element to it. I admire Michael for taking on for what must have been quite a challenge for him, and doing it as well as he has.”

This is a "sponsored post," meaning the company who sponsored the article compensated me for writing the article. The opinions I have expressed, however, are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."