Don’t Judge a Book by its Movie is a weekly feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting and reviewing book to movie adaptations.
Author: Lois Lowry
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Odeya Rush
Director: Phillip Noyce
Screenplay: Robert B. Waide and Michael Mitnick
Summary (from Goodreads): Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
Most students have no doubt been given the task to read The Giver by Lois Lowry as part of their school’s curriculum. The novel, The Giver, written by Lois Lowry two decades ago is a dystopian book that has captured the hearts of many. The leap to the big screen in 2014 has excited many fans of Lowry’s The Giver Quartet, however, the drastic changes to the plot make this movie one to wonder why such changes were necessary.
The Giver is a middle grade novel that deals with quite a deep concept. What makes us human? Lowry explores this theme in her novel by creating a society that has no feelings, simple pleasures or enjoyment. The state controls all of these elements that make us uniquely human in an effort to thwart war and corruption. The reader experiences through the protagonist, Jonas, what is like to be devoid of such human understandings. Slowly, Lowry brings back memories for Jonas, through the Giver, of certain experiences, such as the sting of having a sunburn. The Giver is just one of those books that makes readers contemplate their own experiences and existence in a beautifully written book.
The fact that it took so many years for The Giver to be translated to the screen is quite interesting. It seems as though when this book was originally written, the market for dystopian novels and films was quite small. Now that there are huge franchise opportunities due to the growing popularity of such films like The Hunger Games and Divergent series, it appears that The Giver was produced to jump in on the band wagon. While I enjoyed the film and was excited to see so many big names, including Taylor Swift, included in the cast, I much prefer the book to the movie. The differences between the novel and the film really disappointed me.
When watching the film adaptation of The Giver, viewers also leave with a sense of deep introspection about our human race. These thoughts, however, are brought on in a completely different manner when transferred to the screen. The memories that Jonas is given are done so in a different order and do not have the same effect in the movie. This really seemed lacking. Also, the age at which Jonas is given a career choice is much older in the film, which is an obvious way for the movie to be targeted at young adults, rather than the middle grade children that the book was originally intended for. My last beef with the film is that it includes a romance between Jonas and another main character. While in the book, Jonas does experience “stirrings,” he certainly doesn’t act upon them. It seems as though another movie has been stuffed with extra content to satisfy the need for Hollywood effect.
Most readers of The Giver will probably see this film out of curiosity. A background to the plot is helpful when watching the movie, as some things aren’t explained in depth. However, there is such a difference between the book and the movie that reading the book prior to seeing the film isn’t necessary. I do recommend this film to anyone who enjoys dystopian films, such as The Hunger Games.