– by C. Eden
Based on the book of the same name, The Giver is a film depicting an utopian world where unquestionable elders have eliminated “precision of language” no words like love, hate are allowed and they have also taken away war, murder, violence, and subsequently death. The people in the community live bland lives which are empty of real feeling but in doing this, there is no conflict. However, there is a down-side to everything they have strived to achieve.
The film begins in black and white, an old fashioned look to show that the elders have tried to retain some sense of old moral and the lifestyle of say the ‘50s. The characters are all dressed respectfully, and are polite to one another, conversations consisting of passing grades and the upcoming graduation ceremony all under the watchful eye of CCTV on every corner.
Jonas (Brenton Thwaits, SLiDE, Home & Away) is left standing alone on an empty stage after his friends Fiona (Odeya Rush, Law & Order SVU) and Asher (Cameron Monaghan, Vampire Academy) are given career paths to follow. Just as the lights are fading, Jonas is told by the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady, The Devil Wears Prada) he is being selected to be a “receiver,” a person who is entrusted to see and hear all the memories of the previous world and then use his knowledge to help govern the current and make sure mistakes of the past aren’t repeated.
The Giver (Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski, Tron) teaches Jonas what it was like in the real world and they guess at what is beyond the boundary line on the outskirts of town they are not allowed to venture to. The Giver shows him the beauty of music and memories, of animals and people. He is then able to see colour in the black and white world and gradually stops living the way his parents Mother (Katie Holmes, Batman Begins) and Father (Alex Skarsguard, True Blood) want him to.
The film borrows from others previously made, namely Equilibrium in which characters have to take injections every morning to suppress feelings – as is also done in this movie – and The Village, a film that saw elders of a community build fences and boundaries and tell all the younger people that there were monsters, making sure they preserved the way of life inside the walls.
Starting in black and white, gradually turning up the colour as Jonas goes against the rules and shares what he is learning is a great touch in this film. The sense of wonder and fun as one watches someone see things for the first time adds to the moral of the story, makes the audience feel as the film progresses. The film also shows the audience the same time as Jonas learns, that by eliminating death, pain and emotion, the value of human life has decreased too as nothing means anything anymore.
The film builds to a point and then sticks there for a while and drops, leaving one thinking that as a book it was probably excellent but translating to a film, there is simply not enough of a climax after such a great ramp up to the point. All actors are incredibly talented and push the story forward but the film cold definitely have done with more action in the climatic ending.
Still, it is definitely worth a watch as there are many small things in the is film that make is interesting, from cameos by Taylor Swift to shots of changing scenery that go from a desert-like locations to snow covered mountainous regions. It is a repeated theme lately with many films being released making commentary or asking about what it is that makes us human and creating worlds showing that maybe in the quest to perfect it, we are destroying the lifestyle we wanted.