The Giver is a thought provoking movie with cool visual arts, a great cast and questioning themes. However, did it stick very close to the book? Unfortunately, no. But before you cross the movie off your list, let me tell you these differences and why I think the movie was still pretty decent.
In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the book takes place in a dystopian community where 12 year old Jonas is growing up in a world of “Sameness.” Everyone is completely and totally equal and the world is in black and white, void of emotions. Each year there are ceremonies to celebrate the lives of children. For some examples, there is the Newborn ceremony where babies are assigned to families. When you are Nine you receive a bike, when you are Twelve, you are assigned a job. Jonas’ friend Asher is goofy and fun, assigned to work in the Recreation center, while his quiet and polite friend, Fiona, is assigned to work with the Elderly. Jonas is assigned to be the Receiver of memories, where he is given old memories of the world before this community by an old man called the Giver. He begins to experience a world of color, emotions and liveliness, along with cruelty and war.
The movie takes place in a similar black and white setting, but the characters and story are slightly changed. There are less ceremonies, and the ages of the characters are raised from 12 to 18. This slightly frustrated me, because I felt one of the central themes of the book was the fact that Jonas was just a child. There is also a love story in the movie centered around Jonas and Fiona. At first this did slightly bother me as well, in a world where there is no emotions and the characters are only supposed to be 12, it’s not like a love story is even practical. I do understand why the directors did it: these days it feels like to be a successful teen movie there has to be some central romance. I find this slightly unrealistic in many of these dystopian settings. However, the actress who plays Fiona in The Giver does a wonderful job of portraying a strong female character and in watching the movie you grow to like her and her character. Towards the end I even felt myself rooting for the love story. Jonas’s friend Asher also plays a much larger role in the movie. The movie is also filled with more action and a very different ending that focuses less on Jonas and more on hope for the entire community. I felt the ending and its whole focus on a “boundary of memories” was also slightly unrealistic, but I did like the sense of hope you got at the end. Although as you can see there are a lot of differences, the movie is exciting and action packed and raises many interesting questions about humanity.
Overall, I thought that despite quite a few differences between the book and the movie, I still love both. I felt like the directors just tried turning Lois Lowry’s thought-provoking teen novel into just another dystopian thriller, however, I can’t deny that I did enjoy watching the movie. It makes you laugh, think and fall in love. It is incredibly heart-wrenching to watch some scenes, especially those with Jonas and the Giver and seeing him react to feeling emotions or hearing music for the first time. My recommendation is that first you read Lois Lowry’s book, because it in itself is amazing. Nothing can truly match the power of that book. Then, go see the movie, but don’t go in with expectations that it stays true to the book. Because although the two differ greatly, The Giver is still a very enjoyable movie that delivers a great thriller for a Friday night at the theater!