Though the source material was published twenty years ago, it feels as if "The Giver" could not be released at a more fitting time for today's society. Now playing, "The Giver" is an emotionally powerful film with a message that today's audiences need to embrace.
"The Giver" follows Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), as he begins training with the so-called Giver (Jeff Bridges) as the new "receiver of memory." Together, they are the only two people in their community who remember the past -- both its beauty, and its pain. They live in a world void of war, loss, and pain -- but also lacking love, beauty, color, and joy. Emotions are tampered with daily injections. "Sameness" prevents jealousy and inequality.
As Jonas discovers the truth of the world, he realizes that the sacrifices his society has made to avoid pain are not worth the price of missing out on joy and love.
For audiences, the message of the film packs a mighty punch. In a world filled with death and violence -- one need only look at current events to see a slough of examples -- it's easy to find temptation in a society of "sameness," where the sort of discord we face on a daily basis no longer exists.
What "The Giver" reminds audiences is that the price of that peace is too high. After all, as both Jonas and the Giver point out in the film, what is the point of life without love? Without joy? Without music and color and dancing?
Perhaps some of the film's most emotionally resonant moments are when we see the society's forgotten memories reflected in photos and video of the world in its most vivid moments. Even archival and stock footage becomes something magnificent when juxtaposed against the harsh black-and-white world of "The Giver."
"The Giver" is a reminder to audiences that we live in a beautiful world -- and that it's up to us to work harder every day to minimize the violence and pain.
"The Giver" also stands out from today's other young adult film adaptations -- even others classified as "dystopian." Unlike popular movies like "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent," "The Giver" isn't about fighting against an oppressive regime. "The Giver" is about hope -- and unlike the aforementioned films, it gives audiences an uplifting feeling as it reaches its conclusion.
Filmmakers have done a brilliant job of adapting Lois Lowry's novel -- capturing the essence of her book and translating the emotional impact of the novel to the big screen without sacrifice. That's not to say there aren't some differences. The most notable is how filmmakers aged up Jonas and his friends; it doesn't matter -- the story and its emotional impact are faithful to Lowry's source material. Likewise, the novel's ambiguous ending is made more clear for audiences -- while still reflecting the original ending Lowry wrote.
"The Giver" should be required viewing for everyone in our society. A resonant message of hope, and a reminder about the joy our world possesses, if we can only find a way past the violence and discord. It's up to us; that's what "The Giver" reminds viewers.
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