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3 reasons why we’re worried about ‘The Giver’ movie

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.

(This is basically my face after watching the trailer.)

Aging Characters

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.

Unnecessary Technology

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.

What do y’all think of the trailer?

Hayley is a 20 year old pop culture fanatic that enjoys obsessing over movies, television shows and books in her free time. When she's not (almost) constantly reading, she's usually obsessing over celebrities or just screaming about the magnificence that is Will Herondale and Noah Shaw. Feel free to follow her on twitter @partmermaid.

  • Anna-Weston Tyner

    I just saw it today and thought the SAME THING. It’s one of my top 5 favorite books and while I know adaptations have to be different by nature of the medium I am seriously scared they will ruin it :(

  • Kit Baconguis

    I don’t mind them shooting in color. While the reveal that the Community was in black and white was a very effective gut punch in a literary medium because of course the readers would assume the Community was in color, it wouldn’t translate well to the screen.

    I completely agree with the other two points, though — especially with the technology. It gives it a very futuristic, Hunger Games feel. I feel bad that the movie seems to conform with the very dystopian YA stereotypes the book very well predated.

    But hey, I’m going to end up watching this in cinemas anyway.

  • Greenleaf17

    I agree so much with the age and colour problem, it’s such a shame. I don’t mind about the technology though, I think that might be effective. :D

  • RWinter195

    worked on the movie. next trailer will show B&W -we did shoot that way -the progression is there

  • RWinter195

    check out the author who approved all we did on the movie. all of this was carefully considered. thanks for your interest and support

  • Stephanie Compagnoni

    I hated the book so the changes will probably make me like the movie… but thats just me!

  • Kimmy West

    Hey there – thanks so much for confirming this! Do you have an email contact? I’d love to quote you on the site to ease people’s worries! Since I know that we’d LOVE to love this film. :)

  • Kimmy West

    I just direct messaged you on Twitter!

  • Kimmy West

    We’re heading to theaters regardless as well! :D

  • Samantha Beville

    The trailer makes me not want to watch the movie because it seems so far off from the novel. The message of the novel and the basic plot lines seems to have changed. The Giver is not some action pack science fiction book, unlike the trailer.

  • Greenleaf17

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to be there at the cinema watching the movie when it comes out, I’m really happy about the colour thing, I can’t wait to watch this movie :D The age isn’t really much of a problem really, but you know. Just a book nerd thing :P If the author approves, then I’ll be fine with anything xD

  • http://lovethroughthedarkdays.tumblr.com/ Amelia B

    Everyone needs to stop worrying about the age thing. Not only are 12 year olds hard to sell (with the type of material–if the trailer included the actors at their correct age, no parent would ever consider taking their kid to see it, and no young adult would ever want to go see it), but this would have been production hell with all the child labor laws and such.
    If you wanted a Giver movie that was somewhat viable both in the time it took to make it as well as how much it could make, 12 year olds don’t really work.
    I for one am extremely excited. And while maybe the color was important, I’m sure they didn’t just ditch that all together. You can’t show everything in a trailer, and for a preliminary trailer, you have to wow them, not utterly confuse the average viewer.

  • Numra

    I agree, the trailer did not make me happy. It looks like they were trying to make another hunger games/divergent/whatever hit and I’m sad that that’s the route they’re going for. Personally I don’t mind the aging and I kinda get the colored scenes? I mean us readers read the book not realizing everyone sees black and white until it is revealed to Jonas that everyone had been seeing in black and white. That was the big ‘omg????’ moment and that moment would be lost on the audience who would have been seeing the b&w scenes so they knew what Jonas didn’t know (hope that made sense lol).

  • Kimmy West

    Agreed! :D

  • Emily Woods

    I agree on the technology thing but the other things I can understand. The beauty of the book of how Jonas changed with the knowledge that was given to him. There can be a futuristic society with out all the high tech gadgets. Personally I believe the technology was taken away to create a society the functioned because of its simplicity.