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Should I see ‘The Giver?’

August 16th, 2014 by Paul Martin

The GiverI’ve never read Lois Lowry’s Newberry Award winning book The Giver. I have, however, seen the feature film based on that book.

One of the best compliments that you can give to a movie, that is based on a book that you’ve never read before, is if the movie makes you want to read the book. I’ve had that happen a number of times over the years, including City of EmberBig Fish and a few others. This one is no different. I definitely want to pick up the book, and the three other books that are set in the film’s world.

The Giver is a film that I’ve been actually looking forward to seeing for a number of years. As the movie got closer, I got a little more nervous about the movie. I knew it was possible that I wouldn’t like the movie, which happens from time to time (I’m very selective with movies that I see).

What I saw was a movie that has a lot of great messages. The ending of the movie is an especially good talking point about where true freedom comes from. The symbolism there is subtle, but it made me very happy, showing a bit of where true freedom comes from.

The movie has a lot of good conversation starters. There are some parts where the filming is a little odd, but intentionally so. It’s not a movie for small children, though. It deals with some things that would be scarring to young minds that would not be able to come to terms with how people can do bad things to each other, or to babies.

One major element of the film is how it addresses the value of life. All of life. And it does so in a way that is very moving and life affirming.

Something that might surprise you, but not readers of the book (based on some controversy around the first trailer that was released) is that the film starts out in black and white. It doesn’t stay that way, but definitely uses it as a storytelling device. The color saturation or de-saturation was a subtle device used to help the viewer understand what the characters are seeing.

The characters in the story are caught up in a world that is striving to protect its’ people from the dangers that come with being able to feel emotion, and to have choices in life. It seems that it’s also lead to a world in which the people that have grown up within this limited environment have no sense of the despicable things they may be carrying out. They’re purposefully kept naive. And where the story begins is a graduation of sorts, where the various ages of the people in the community have hit their next stage, and assignments are given.

To one, though, is given the memories of the time before the communities. That way, the elders can seek the advice of the receiver, to avoid making past mistakes once more.

The movie is PG-13, but not Michael Bay PG-13. Parents, see it first before taking your kids, so that you know what sorts of things you should be ready to talk about.

There was a sequence in the movie that nearly brought tears to my eyes, in a good way.

I highly recommend The Giver, and I look forward to reading the book.

If you have read the book, here are the author’s comments: