Did the Movie do ‘The Giver’ Justice?

Did the Movie do The Giver Justice?

Lauren Hassan

Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Photo courtesy of Flickr. Lois Lowry’s award winning book, The Giver, came to movie theaters in August.


The movie adaption of “The Giver” has received fair ratings but is very different than the book by Lois Lowry. It was directed by Phillip Noyce and the budget was about $25,000,000. During opening week, the film made $12,305,016.  Some may believe that the movie is yet another teenage dystopian film. It is true that dystopian movies are rather common at the present and that they all are fairly similar. However, “The Giver” proves to stand separate from productions such as “Divergent” or “The Hunger Games.”

One might notice that when books are made into films, they are often changed in a way that is jarring to a devoted fan. Although, mere details of the plot of “The Giver” were changed, it affected the overall mien of the film. In the book, Jonas, the main character and narrator, is an 11 year-old boy. However, in the film, everyone who is supposed to be Jonas’ age, is a teenager. This slight change makes a big difference. The age of the characters affects how they are seen and how they act.  Children are generally seen as innocent while teenagers are seen as rebellious or independent. Another difference was how light was shed on Jonas’ community. Lowry wrote the book in a way that slowly exposed the secrets and structure of the community.

In spite of that, the film delves into the puzzles and rules of the “community” quickly. For example, citizens must not lie, cannot disrespect each other, and are required to use precision of language. For example, ‘love’ is not considered a precise word. Characters develop more rapidly than they did in the book. Understandably, movies do not usually have the leisure of taking their time.  Yet, exposing the community and its characters slowly is a beloved aspect of Lowry’s writing. In the film, the true nature of the characters and the rules of the community are disclosed quickly so that the viewer dives headlong into the plot. However, in the book, everything is exposed slowly and surely to ease the reader into the community and make them want to read more.

Additionally, Brenton Thwaites and Jeff Bridges played Jonas and the Giver. Thwaites did a fair job at portraying the sheltered and curious Jonas. This is surprising, given that Thwaites is a 25 year-old actor depicting a teenager who is meant to be an eleven year-old. On the other hand, Bridges does an amazing performance when portraying the all-knowing Giver. While seeming determined and focused, the Giver must also be compassionate; he worries and he loves. Bridges definitely portrayed that character well.

I personally believe that the dystopian genre is interesting yet overused.  I enjoy reading books or watching movies that are about dystopian societies. However, these types of books and movies are too common. Studios keep taking dystopian books that few noticed before and making them into big productions because of the ‘dystopian trend’. Although many of these dystopian films or novels are interesting and well written, I believe that people need more of a variety in popular entertainment.