Give Us Back “The Giver”

The film adaptation of Lowry’s 1993 classic, “The Giver”, misses the mark.

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) and Fiona (Odeya Rush) are pictured in front of the Community, with faces of the Giver (Jeff Bridges) and the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) behind them. The Giver opened 15 Aug.

Photo Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) and Fiona (Odeya Rush) are pictured in front of the Community, with faces of the Giver (Jeff Bridges) and the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) behind them. The Giver opened 15 Aug.

Lauren Bander, Columnist

In a utopian sector on future-Earth, called the Community, lives a sixteen-year-old boy named Jonas. Like everybody else, he’s lived there all his life, and has never been outside its walls. He believes it’s perfect, until he’s given the job of the Receiver of Memory, where he learns that there was life before the Community. This life was much better than the one he knows. They didn’t have Sameness — unlike the world in which he currently dwells where everyone is totally equal, with no difference in skin, colors, or emotions. People without Sameness could feel things, like joy and love. But with that came pain and sadness, and the people of the Community feel they needed to be protected from that. Jonas and his mentor, the Giver, feel differently.

The Giver, out 15 August, was the adaptation of Lois Lowry’s expertly-written 1993 novel. The novel was about an insightful twelve-year-old who just wanted to do the right thing. The film didn’t fare too well and it was turned into a typical love story with action and adventure.

The filmmakers gave young, innocent Jonas a redo when they made him four years older and gave him a love interest. While Jonas was interested in female lead Fiona in the book, it was only a little crush. He just noticed that she was attractive but never took anything further. In the movie, Jonas taught her that there was more to be felt, kissed her, and said he loved her. In the book, it was more apparent that he knew that love and romance weren’t the same thing. The change would’ve been fine if it weren’t ruining something Lowry did so wonderfully. She wrote an interesting novel without romance, which is a hard thing to do.

Also, they changed an important character aspect of Jonas: his intuition. Maybe this was because of a lack of narration, but Jonas lacked a certain awareness. He used to be able to look at a situation and make his own judgements of right and wrong. He could tell when some things were off, or when he was being overly-sensitive. He could see importance in the little things. These were details that movie-Jonas didn’t handle as well as book-Jonas did.

They also changed the ending. The book ends with mystery, and it’s left up to the reader to decide what happens (until you’re told, three books later). It ends with preparation, emotion, and well-written internal conflict. The movie removes all of that and just springs upon the ending suddenly and without any insight or self-evaluation.

Overall, I did like most of the movie. They kept some scenes that were really special with Jonas’ character development. He still felt the joy of the good memories and wished everyone could feel that way. But he also felt the harsh pain of the bad memories that made him feel differently toward the Community, like it should’ve. I was even okay with Fiona being slightly more prominent, until the end, when she changed Jonas’ perspective too much.

It was a good movie by itself, but it ruined the message of the book. The Giver was one of those books that didn’t need to be made into a movie. If you prefer books to movies, I advise against seeing this. This ruins a beloved coming-of-age story and turns it into just another teen romance.