Movie Summary (from IMDb): In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world.
Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
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I don’t have a blog review of The Giver, unfortunately, but it’s one of my favorite books of all time. I read the book in 6th grade, again in high school (on my own), and a handful of times as an adult. I absolutely love it. It’s short, well written, and conveys such strong and deep themes in such a simple way.
When I first saw previews for The Giver, I was extremely skeptical. The book has been out for a very very long time and is a favorite book among many people I’ve met in my life. I think, like most people, I was afraid the movie would fall short, despite the all star cast. After all, YA dystopian books turned movies is like the thing now. I feel like they are releasing left and right.
I knew The Giver was releasing during a time when the technology we have for visual effects would work nicely, so I was looking forward to seeing a lot of the scenes come to life. But I was afraid that, among the handful of other dystopian movies, it would get lost in the muck, be forgetful, or be turned into some terribly action romance thing. I almost refused to see it. I was that concerned about it being completely awful.
I’m really glad my husband decided to take me to see it. He’s not a huge reader, but we share a lot of old favorites, and The Giver is one of those shared favorites. Many times during the movie, we looked at each other, surprised that a certain scene in the book was playing before our eyes. He leaned over once to say, “I always imagined their bikes would look just like that.”
Of course, like any movie, there were tons of changes. Jonas was older, some of the events were changed, and the ending was a bit different. Despite the changes, the movie stayed very true the book and the elements of the book. The movie gave readers a glimpse of what could have happened to Jonas. Readers will never forget the way the book ended, but the movie expands on that ending and gave us some pretty pivotal scenes. To me, it provided a kind of what-if closure that I never got with the book.
I was shocked by how much I was moved by the memories given to Jonas. When the Giver shared music and dancing and war and sledding… I loved every scene. It contrasted with the daily life of the community in such a way that played with the viewer’s emotions. I thought it was perfectly done. It’s rare that I am so moved by that kind of thing, but the way all the moments flashed and revealed themselves and the way human beings can be just moved me.
I’m not a huge fan of Jeff Bridges or Katie Holmes, but they both nailed their characters. I was worried about Jeff Bridges being the Giver because I always pictured someone more Dumbledore-ish, but he really did a wonderful job. All of the acting was amazing. In fact, most of my initial concerns about the movie were unfounded. It wasn’t turned into an action or romance movie, but stayed true the themes of the book.
Bottom Line: I definitely recommend seeing the movie. It wasn’t perfect or as good as the book, but it was good. Perhaps I loved it so much because I expected to hate it, but I didn’t find it disappointing at all. It probably won’t resonate with viewers the same way the book resonates with readers, but it’s not nearly as forgettable as I imagined it would be.