When I heard The Giver was being made into a movie, I was super excited. It was one of those books that was a part of my childhood and helped shape the type of reader I am today. The novel has been banned in several parts of the world. I felt lucky enough that my grade 6 teacher believed in his students to be able to handle the mature themes and reflect on its message.
The story takes place in a seemingly perfect world, one without pain and suffering, war and death, differences or choice. When children turn twelve, they are assigned a role to play for the rest of their lives in the Community. A young boy named Jonas is chosen as the next Receiver of Memory, receiving special training from the Giver who holds all the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. One memory after the next, Jonas learns the beauty of what life can be and the horrors that have been tucked away.
This time around I won’t be able to accurately compare the movie to the book because it has been quite a while since I read the book, but I’m going to try my best or at least talk about my experience in a general sense.
When the movie trailer first came out, all I saw was full-coloured scenes. If you’ve read the book, you know that no one sees in colour, just black and white. I was definitely worried the film would leave it out because it might not be so well-received by pure movie-goers. It’s such a big part of the novel that it would have left me disappointed not to see it in the movie. Thankfully, there’s beautiful black and white filmography during nearly half of the movie. The cool part was as Jonas received memories of colour, he and the audience started seeing those colours slowly being integrated into his surroundings.
I also loved how the movie presented the act of Jonas receiving memories. There were both beautiful and horrifying images of the world, its animals and environment. Overtime, Jonas became a part of the memories, experiencing what war was like and being surrounded by death. He got to see a sunset and the ocean. He enjoyed happiness and love at a joyous celebration. Much like the novel, the audience becomes an omnipotent entity, seeing and hearing everything Jonas does.
With any movie, certain decisions are made to entice more people to see the film. This leads me to my next point that Jonas and his friends seem much older than in the book. Jonas is twelve in the novel, but seems to be in his teens in the movie. This allows an element of romance to happen between Jonas and Fiona. It didn’t bother me much as it would other people because I understood it from a film industry standpoint. Besides, the novel is so small to begin with something needed to be added to keep an audience’s attention.
That being said, there were a lot of slow gaps due to the novel being so short. Unlike a novel that is a little meatier where an editor can pick and choose what to cut out, a short story forces someone to add scenes that wasn’t there before and can leave some readers to movie goers a little disgruntled. I think The Giver would have been better off being untouched or turned into a short so the pacing could have moved a little more quickly and the plot could become a little tighter.
In my opinion, the movie is a one-time watching experience. The book, however, is something I will continue to re-read over and over again for years to come.
Book Rating: 5/5
Film Rating: 2.5/5
*Disclosure: An advance screening ticket was provided from the film company or a third-party source. This is an honest review; the opinions within this review are solely my own, not that of the film company, the publisher or the author.