Warning: this article contains spoilers, so don’t read any further if you are not okay with knowing the end to Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. From the moment I found out that The Giver was being adapted into a movie, I was ecstatic. Ever since I first read it in lower school, I was completely enthralled by the story. Everything about it drew me in; the plot, the characters, the society in which they live, and the message that the brilliant Lois Lowry was trying to pass on to the readers. Having said this, I will admit that when I first saw the trailer for the movie, I was taken aback. The first thought through my head was: is this even the same story? Several things about the trailer make me extremely nervous that they have driven extremely far off the plot of the book. I understand that no movie is going to be one-hundred percent faithful to any book. I get that. But, what I don’t understand is why some writers feel the need to basically rewrite and edit the book. If the book’s plot wasn’t good to begin with, it wouldn’t have been a success. There’s a reason that the books were bestsellers, and it’s because people love the story.
First off, let’s start with the problem that for some reason has been plaguing recent book adaptations: age. I understand aging some characters to make them older. I really do. Maybe a character is fifteen, but to accommodate the actor they change the age in the movie to eighteen. That makes sense to me. What I don’t understand is why you would change a character that is supposed to be eleven at the beginning of the novel to look around the age of a young adult. The beginning of the book has the approaching Ceremony of Twelve, where the different Elevens (who are no obviously turning twelve) are assigned their duty within the Community. I just don’t get it. The movie would be so much more interesting, to me at least, if they had kept Jonas’ character his correct age. Besides, how is there going to be a Ceremony of Twelve when Jonas looks to be about seventeen? Are they going to change it to Ceremony of Eighteen? It just doesn’t have the same ring to it, or importance for that matter. I feel like part of the reason Lois Lowry made Jonas so young was to show that from a very young age, we are exposed to both the beauty and horror of the world. Though this is important to know at any age, I think it’s more meaningful when the character is eleven as opposed to eighteen.
Black and White
The next obvious issue is the color. It’s stated more than once that the Community is a black and white world. Not in a metaphorical sense, but that the world is literally black and white. This becomes more obvious when after a few lessons with the Receiver, Jonas begins to see glimpses of color and experiences the beauty of a rainbow and the look and feel of sunshine through the memories that the Receiver (who later becomes known as The Giver) shares with Jonas. It’s a huge part of the book and it’s message, and I feel that filming the entire movie in color is taking away a large part of the lesson that Lowry was trying to portray. My opinion is that it should start off in black and white and that the color should return color by color as Jonas begins to see them.
Finally to my last big point is the Hollywood-ish portrayal the trailer seems to advertise. The Giver is not a book that has hovercrafts, lights from said hovercrafts that beam people up, or explosions or anything. Once Jonas and the newchild, Gabriel, have escaped to Elsewhere, there isn’t some extravagant chase to bring him back that involves motorcycles, flying space ships, or anything like that. It’s simply him and Gabriel facing nature and the troubles it inflicts such as the dangers of cold and hunger. In the trailer, it shows Jonas running through the desert (in the book it was snow) and a hovercraft beaming him and Gabriel up. Like, what? When did that happen? I haven’t read the book in a while, but I definitely don’t remember anything like that.
To me, the whole point of the story was that the extravagant things in life are not needed. Not that you should take away everything that constitutes “sameness” as the Community has, but that the simple things are what matters. The beauty of color, sound, and life in general. Playing in snow for the first time, or the thrill of going sledding. It’s the simple things that should make us the happiest. Having so many exaggerated technological extremes seems to completely bypass the exact thing that Lois Lowry was trying to show isn’t as important as we think it is.