September 22, 2014
This summer the classic novel The Giver by Lois Lowry came to the big screen. The movie rendition attracted some high profile actors such as Jeff Bridges as The Giver and Meryl Streep as Chief Elder. The movie was directed by Philip Noyce and the screenplay written by Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide. Lois Lowry's The Giver has been studied in junior high and high school classes for years and is well-loved by many. The book is the first in The Giver Quartet which includes: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. You will find all of the books in our catalogue and you will find the eBooks or eAudiobooks in OverDrive. The movie soundtrack can be acessed using Hoopla.
One of the perks fo being is YAC member is that sometimes the library recives advanced screening passes for upcoming movies. This summer we received some passes for The Giver and the YAC members who had the opportunity to see it were asked to provide some commentary on their experience. How did the movie compare to the book? Did they agree with the acting and directing choices that were made? Read on for the reviews from 5 of our Youth Advisory Council members...
Aidan focuses in on the portrayal of the characters in the movie versus the book, particularly the main character of Jonas.
The Giver, is a truly inspiring novel and an equally enjoyable movie. It is a story about a boy named Jonas (played by Brenton Thwaites), who lives in his futuristic community with his family and friends in complete harmony. Everything is perfect: no arguments, sadness, regret, everyone is happy, until Jonas is chosen to become the new receiver of memory. He alone must carry the memory of man-kind’s mistakes and joys in this futuristic tale. The question is however, is he okay with having these memories whilst everyone is in the dark?
Between the book and the movie there were some differences, as it is with all novel-based movies. One of the major differences I found was that Jonas’ friends Asher and Fiona (played by Cameron Monaghan and Odeya Rush) were more involved in the movie than in the book.
Though it took away from the feelings of solitude and loneliness that the novel expertly created, it also took away some off the sadness that was originally in place. Also, the actors in the movie fit their characters quite well. The side characters being emotionless to the edge of being a human or a robot really helped to reinforce Jonas’ difference in his ability to feel. Jonas’ performance will be guaranteed to keep you enthralled throughout the entire movie.
Robyn enjoyed the movie and found it to be a fair representation of the book.
My friend thought that it was very similar to all the other dystopian movies out there. We both agree that they chose great actors/actresses for the parts.
I found that the book and movie were almost identical. The only difference I could see was that the mark of the receivers/givers is light coloured eyes in the book and a mark on their hand in the movie.
In my opinion the ending of the movie was a little anticlimactic even though it was exactly the same as the book. Overall, it was a good movie and I would recommend it to anyone.
Rena feels that the deep emotion conveyed in the movie in quite similar and just as impactful as that conveyed in the book.
I haven't read the Giver for about six years and I barely remember it. This may have been a bit of an advantage in seeing the movie, because I do remember loving the book, and as with all book to movie adaptations, I was afraid the movie would not live up to the book. However, I believe that this movie did, in its own way, live up to the theme and message of the book; though there were some differences between them.
Luckily, I saw the movie with a friend who had read the book more recently and was able to refresh my memory. The greatest change from the book was, of course, aging up all the characters. In the book, the age at which the children of this dystopian society receive their job placements is twelve, in the movie, it's eighteen. This change was probably made to include the addition of a love story between the characters, and perhaps because the mature themes and content in the book meant the movie is already more predisposition to an older audience. Although the young age of the characters in the book added a lot to the story, I understand their reason for the change. And I can say that I enjoyed the movie more with older actors than I might have if they were all prepubescent.
The addition of a love story is also a bit of a change, one that I originally wasn't a fan of as it seemed to be there simply to appeal to the teenaged audiences, and to assimilate it with previous popular films such as Divergent and The Hunger Games. However, I enjoyed how Fiona began to question the rules and society because of Jonas' feelings; and how she began to change even before Jonas broke the barrier. I thought this spoke to the strength of human emotion, and the strength of Fiona's character; that she began to feel and make her own choices without having to rely on Jonas to save the day. In the book, no one feels anything until Jonas (and Gabriel) cross the Boundary.
The only other major change we noticed was the role of Jonas' friend Asher, in the book he is assigned to watch over the younger children, and does not have all that active of a role in the story. I preferred his more involved role in the movie, though it did unfortunately mean he betrayed his friends and helped the totalitarian government. However it was a great moment when he decided to let Jonas go, and it was interesting to see him warring with himself over the decision. Just like it was interesting to watch Fiona wrestle with herself when she decided to help Jonas escape with Gabe.
I enjoyed all the acting in the film although I didn't know any of the main teenaged actors in the film but I thought they did a great job at portraying the characters and making their gradual journey to feeling emotions believable. Apparently Taylor Swift made an appearance as well but I did not recognize her at all; I guess I was too caught up in the movie.
One of the things I enjoyed most about the film was the filming; I'm really glad they decided to do it in black and white as it followed the book and made the full colour memories all the more important. The dizzying effect and poor footage in some of the memories really helped make them seem jarring, and each one portrayed an emotion well. The war memory was especially disturbing, in a good way.
There have been a lot of dystopian movies as of late, but for me, The Giver stood out from the other teen dramas for its younger perspective, and greater focus on the importance of memories and human emotion; as well as what life would be like without those things and how we would relate to each other without feelings like love. The movie did have flaws of course, such as when Jonas and Gabe (a like year old baby) were dropped out of a helicopter into a series of rapids and both emerged perfectly fine. However, for the most part I greatly enjoyed the movie and thought it was a thought provoking experience, much like the book.
Dana did not read the book before seeing the movie but she definitely intends to read the book after seeing it. Here are her thoughts on the story as portrayed in the movie:
Hello! I had the fortunate chance of going to an advanced screening of “The Giver” based off the book from Lois Lowry. Since I haven't read the book my perspective might differ but I'll do my best of also analyzing the movie in detail. Initially, the first thing that caught my eye was the lack of colour to emphasize how monotonous the society is. I notice that everyone basically wore the same clothes in the same colour and had the same coloured bikes. Their way of speaking was so polite and almost robotic in a way that you could tell that this society did not welcome change or difference easily.
Jonas, the main character played by Brenton Thwaites, I think played the role perfectly. He's very confused about where he belongs since it seems like he's different from the rest - and he is. You see splashes of colour from him and wonder why he gets them. Everyone is designated a job that they will do for the rest of their lives, it’s decided by a council of elders. When Jonas is singled out and is chosen for the position of “The Giver” he gets introduced to the past Giver who is played by Jeff Bridges (another great actor!). From there he receives training to be passed on the memories of the Giver and is given the trust to have the citizens and elders ask for his advice and through the memories he can guide them. The memories are of our memories of Earth and yet it feels eerie seeing it being played across his mind. But once he discovers more of these memories he gets torn and finds out about one of the big secrets being kept from him. And thus he tries to set everything right by travelling out of the town's limit to reach it.
I can't of course forget the other characters and their interactions/ roles in the movie. Meryl Streep who plays the chief elder did a fabulous job of being very authoritative but also have a very vulnerable side for someone who's the leader. Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard who play Jonas' mother and father were great, you can definitely see even though they may seem brainwashed they genuinely love Jonas and are protective of their family. Odeya Rush who plays Fiona was stunning, she brought this light hearted atmosphere and is very gentle as she has a motherly instinct. As opposed to Jonas' best friend played by Cameron Monaghan also believes in him and still protects him even if it means putting his life on the line. Rosemary played by Taylor Swift was short as she only appeared briefly but she did a great job especially when it came to the singing. I can't forget Lily who is played by Emma Tremblay and I have to say was too cute and really was supportive and brings an innocence to the movie.
All in all, the movie itself gives out a very powerful message about not being afraid to be different. The society thinks that stripping emotions and creativity is better since they think it’s “a threat”. I think that if we block all emotions and creativity we'd be lost and we wouldn't be able to achieve to our potential as emotions and creativity help us nurture and grow.
In terms of music it was a big bonus in helping to convey the emotion and moments in the movie that were climatic. The soundtrack sounds awesome! It may seem slow at some parts since it’s not an action/thriller movie but it definitely is a really good movie to watch especially if you're fans of the book and want to see the world come to life. Anyways that’s all I have to say about the movie and I'm for sure reading the book and maybe my opinion might change I don't know haha. Have a nice day and see this movie and read the book :D
Julia definitely prefers the book to the movie. Although she pays kudos to the cinematography she lets on that the story may fall short in comparison to the classic novel.
I went into this film thinking I knew what to expect. Most of us know the story of Jonas, of The Giver and of Gabriel. We expect the black and white screen, the sharing of “feelings”, the lack of true caring in any of the characters. The film starts strong. The Ceremony is well done, although much more futuristic than the book portrayed – the holographic leader of all the colonies was an interesting touch. Jonas' apprehension, and his fear when his name is skipped by the leader, is portrayed clearly by Brenton Thwaites – as is Jonas' fear as he becomes the newest Receiver of Memory, singled out as different in a world where everything is the same.
Sadly, the film falls flat in many ways. Although the cinematography is exceptional, much of Lowery's magic is lost in translation. From Jonas' first received memory, that of sledding, to his final journey, the film seems to lose the true meaning of the story in favour of becoming a watered-down crowd-pleaser. The film tries too hard to be something it's not, creating its own story in Jonas' romance with Fiona, the massive cliffs surrounding the colony, and Jonas' dramatic fall over the waterfall. Although these scenes create a sense of the impossible, and are certainly cinematically brilliant, the story loses something in cutting out the little things. The things like Jonas' conversation with an Old, Larissa, about the Ceremony of Release, his first experience with the Stirrings, and the Murmur-of-Replacement Ceremony, where a family is given a new Caleb in replacement for their last who drowned at the age of four. These instances from the novel give more depth to the story, and grant a greater understanding of the way Jonas society functions. Without giving away too much more, I will say that this film has its positives – the cinematography, the actors, the costumes and scenery are all exceptional. I only wish that the script could have been the same.
I hope you've found these reviews to be interesting and informative. Remember, whenever possible: Read the book first!