My daughters read the book, but before I had known that they had read the book, I was looking for some material in which to direct my father, Lloyd Bridges. I also wanted to make a movie that my kids could watch at the time. I was looking through a catalogue of children books and I came across this wonderful cover of a book, with this old, grizzled kind of guy on the cover and thought, ‘Oh yeah, my dad can play that guy!'
Lloyd Bridges sadly passed away before he was able to play The Giver, but fortunately, his son was able to take on the role and serve as executive producer. The decades-long wait for “The Giver” will finally be over when it premieres on August 15. It is a worthwhile wait, as the film is, overall, a beautiful adaptation of Lowry’s beloved work.
“The Giver” is described as:
The coming-of-age story of Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man raised in a seemingly utopian world where everyone appears to be happy. This sense of harmony is created by a strictly engineered existence where the community is deprived of the so-called burden of memories. They have no notion of suffering, hunger, or violence. On the other hand, there's no freedom, no choice and no individuality. Being treated with a regimented daily injection, the humans are genetically designed not to feel emotion or see color, and the scientifically-controlled environment prevents any visual distinctiveness that may stimulate sensation and alter the order of their seemingly utopian world. They live in sameness: identical homes, identical clothes, and an identical family structure.
As stated, the film is a solid effort from its director, Phillip Noyce. He and the cinematographer manage to reconstruct visually the eerie sameness of the people in Jonas’ world. While watching, one gets the sense early on that something is not quite right with the way the people in this community live; audiences will yearn along with Jonas and The Giver for something more.
The way that “something more” is presented to the audience is simply beautiful. This is the real success of the film, the ability of the filmmakers and actors to create an overall message that life is wonderful and that it is worth fighting for. Sure, it may be easier to create a world full of identical people who feel nothing - including pain - but then, as one character in the movie states, “What would be the point”? There’s a lovely hope for the human race in “The Giver” that, in light of recent events around the world, is a magnificent story to tell. In addition, the added gravitas of actors such as Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep leads to the creation of a very good film.
Because of such an impressive cast, which includes Alexander Skarsgård, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift along with Bridges and Streep, all these fine actors cannot be in the movie without being given something to do. As a result, a lot of the film moves away from the source material so to expand the roles of the actors. For example, Streep, who plays the villain, Holmes who plays Jonas’ mother, and even Cameron Monaghan who plays Jonas’ friend Asher are given more prominent roles than found in the book. Most of this is fine, as Streep, who is, as usual, in fine form and Swift’s brief appearance adds some depth to “The Giver”.
“The Giver” is one of the better adaptations of young adult novels and is a fantastically made film. It’s worth a trip to the theaters alone just for a look its cinematography, directing and haunting score.
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