The Giver, a movie adaptation of Lois Lowry’s award-winning book of the same name, is a story centered on a young boy named Jonas, who lives in a simplistic future world where there is no war, suffering, pain, or difference.
In Jonas’ world, the power of choice is considered dangerous, and is taken away from the community. The enforcers of rules are called the Elders. These authorities decided long ago that, for the “safety” of the public, the world would only be seen in black and white and everyone would be required to follow the path that had been laid out for them.
But Jonas is special in ways that other members of the community are not, and although he has never told a soul about his differences—which he does not at first truly understand himself—the Elders know, and decide he is the next Receiver of Memories.
As Receiver, you are to obtain and experience all memories since the beginning of time, in order to use the knowledge of the past—which the government does not deem safe for the public to know—to make confidential decisions.
In both the book and its movie adaptation, the audience follows Jonas as he learns of the new responsibilities he has as the Receiver. While director Phillip Noyce chose to follow the general idea of the book, which was published over two decades ago, he took the liberty of going in a different direction that he considered more appealing to the modern-day teen audience.
Firstly, the age of the main character was greatly increased—this was probably in an attempt to make the story more relatable to the targeted viewers. In the book, Jonas is originally portrayed as being a mere twelve-years-old, while in the movie-version he is played by an actor who appears much older.
Although the book contains some action, it is primarily a tale of isolation, freedom, and suffering. The movie attempts to depict the story as a fast-paced, action-packed, technological journey in order to create a false atmosphere of suspense and excitement, which is not present in the book whatsoever. High speed chases, intensified scenes with an aircraft, holograms, and several other new-to-the-story occurrences were added into the movie. Noyce also chose to add a distorted sense of mystery by making changes to the setting of the book in an effort to bring an air of drama.
To appease the romance-seeking reviewers, a new love story is developed in the movie between Jonas and his friend Fiona, when Fiona is an extremely minor character in the novel and has no major role in Jonas’s life, especially in his new job as the Receiver.
While the movie does have all the requirements of a potential teen favorite, it never truly delivers. And movie-goers who have read the book will surely be disappointed. The Giver: the movie just doesn’t have that much to give.