Lois Lowry’s award-winning story, The Giver, has been made into a movie she says is “very true to the intent of the book”. Jeff Bridges had originally wanted to direct his father, Lloyd Bridges, in the title role but it took too long to bring the movie to reality. Jeff, however, is perfect in the role of the Giver. The only one in the community who has memory and access to the history of the world left behind, he is entrusted with the position of advisor to the council of elders. In this perfect world where nobody lies, and envy and anger do not exist, Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of the knowledge of the Giver. In careful stages, the Giver introduces Jonas not only to colour, music, laughter, and love, but also to the violence and cruelty of the past (which the community believes to have been the result of emotions) and from there to the choice between moral extremes. The chief elder, played by Meryl Streep, says “when people are given choice they choose wrong”.
The setting for this movie clearly demonstrates the contrast between the stiff, regulated, black and white, emotionless community and the incredibly rich home of the Giver with its colour, deep staircase, book-lined walls, secret music room, comfortable chairs, and a whole wall open to the beckoning distance of the world from which the “community” has seceded.
The turning point for Jonas is when he realizes that when the elders use the term “released” it is not a synonym for retirement but a form of euthanasia. Jonas has formed a relationship with a baby (Gabriel) who, not thriving, is finally scheduled to be “released”. No longer operating like a robot, Jonas begins to formulate a plan based on images he has been “given” in his new training sessions. He has been chosen for this role because of his courage and intelligence and he will require both to achieve his goal of giving real and deep emotions back to his community.
This movie is amazing. The acting is superb, the set designs cleverly executed, and the plot true to the intent of the original author, Lois Lowry. * * * * *