In the August 25th issue of People Magazine (the one with Robin Williams on the cover), there is an article based on an interview with Jeff Bridges where he talks about the movie, The Giver, in which he plays the title role. Based on a teen novel (1993) by award-winning author Lois Lowry, this movie is about a seemingly perfect society created by eliminating emotions and all the things that trigger them, including colour, music, dance, and laughter, on the theory that excessive emotions lie behind all the conflict in life — envy, deceit, hatred, greed, lust, pride, etc. The Giver is the only one within the “community” who has all the knowledge and memory of the past world and he must pass all of this to the teenaged graduate who has been chosen to be the Receiver (Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites), who in turn one day will himself become the Giver. The Giver is called upon to give advice to the elders when problems arise. (Head Elder is played by Meryl Streep.) The Giver and the Receiver are the only ones in their world who are permitted to lie and they use this to protect their knowledge. They are the only ones who have knowledge of the dark side of their communities where those who do not thrive, who fail in their assignments, who have completed their assignments, are “released”. They must make a moral decision whether to keep this secret or share it and destroy, or restore as they see it, their society.
I remember a few years ago, a principal came and asked me about this book because one of the teachers was reading it to her class and a parent had called about it. I highly recommended the book and the author. As great as this novel is, I think that Number the Stars (which I usually read with my class as Remembrance Day approached) is even better. Historical fiction, it gives a very moving picture of a young Jewish girl and her family escaping from Copenhagen during the Nazi occupation, the title being particularly apt.
All of Lois Lowry’s books are great but The Giver is the first to be made into a movie. The popular series The Hunger Games seems to me to have grown out of the ideas in The Giver but has become a darker, more dangerous and threatening story. The Giver is more about discovery and the journey of restoration. There are already many blogs online discussing the differences between novel and movie and comparisons of The Giver to The Hunger Games . Lois Lowry will be answering questions on the website Goodreads Q & A on August 27th between 9 and 10 EST. I’m sure bloggers will have asked interesting questions so it should be lively. The Giver is part of a quartet of books including Messenger, Gathering Blue and Son. I’ll be reviewing the movie next week but you should go see the movie; don’t wait for the review. ***** (Rated PG-13)