“I was always confused as to whether or not I read this. I remember the cover vividly, and would often see it at the library or in book fair ads. It’s prominent placement caught my eye, but nothing ever made me want to actually investigate it. But I’d seen that cover so many times, my first reaction was usually “”Oh I read that. Wait, no, did I?”” Same thing happened when I first heard about the adaptation. “”Oh yeah that book. I read it, right?”” Well seeing the trailer confirmed for me. Nope I absolutely did not read this.
For the first act or so, my thought was, “”why the heck didn’t anybody force me to read it?”” I was so absorbed by the world. Granted, I really really love these sorts of alternate societies. Hunger Games, Divergent, all grabbed me for the same reason. I’m intrigued by how their world works, and just love learning about all the details of how things are done.
In The Giver, the culture emphasizes sameness. Sameness means equality which means conflict is eliminated. In a very Equilibrium-esque way, emotions are also medically suppressed in an attempt to keep the communities subdued and at peace. One person in the society is named as the Receiver of Memory. They alone know the true history of the world and experience all the range of emotions that go along with it. Their place is crucial as an all knowing advisor to the governing body. The story follows young Jonas as he begins his training to take over as Receiver.
I think where things started to lose me a little was in the way that these memories were transmitted. Logical brain working here, I would have expected a recounting of history. Stories explaining what happened and studies into the otherwise forgotten facts. Instead, The Giver would transmit images and their emotions to Jonas, teaching him what it was to feel. On screen, these images were basically stock footage happy things. After the first couple rounds, for me they sort of lost their meaning.
By the time we reached out final act of the film, I’d become more disinterested. Similar to what happened when reading the third books of those previously mentioned YA series, I’m more interested in the status quo for the world than it’s dissolution. I don’t care about their attempts to make the world essentially match ours because I live in our world. I know what it’s like. Theirs is more interesting to me, at least as an observer.
Besides that, the other problem I had was that everything felt rushed and diluted. I may not have read the book, but I’ve seen enough movies based on books I have read to recognize the corners being cut. I suppose I should be grateful that they didn’t unnecessarily split this into multiple films, but what we got still felt lacking. Things happened so fast and without much thought or explanation. Enough to make your head spin.
The Giver – \m/ \m/ \m/