So, I went and saw The Giver at the movies yesterday and, despite some serious reservations after seeing the preview, I loved it. I am all kinds of surprised and elated.
I have to confess, even though I read a lot of Lois Lowry books when I was a kid, I never read this one. I actually don’t even remember it being around when I was growing up. I only read it for the first time last week and I loved it. The only downside was that it made me sad I didn’t read it as a kid because I’m almost certain it would have blown my tiny 13-year old mind, and I think it would have been lovely to have been able to revisit it as an adult.
One of the great things about the book (and there were many) is that I did NOT see the whole colour thing coming – I don’t know whether I’m just an idiot or Lowry is an incredible writer (probably equal parts both), but I didn’t pick up on the fact that everything in the Community was in black and white, so when the Giver tells Jonas he is starting to see colours I had a proper lightning bolt moment.
Anyway, the movie. First of all, the preview was really deceptive. They made it seem like Jonas meeting the Giver was a chance encounter (I think they even used those exact words), which essentially changes the entire fabric of the society. They also made it seem like the Giver was some weird hermit that everyone was scared of, as opposed to being a central (yes, isolated) part of the Community. Well, I needn’t have been so worried – the movie was really well done and while they did add some Hollywood to it – they jacked up the love story with Fiona and made the Chief Elder way more evil than she was in the book (which Meryl Streep nailed, just quietly) – I don’t think they did anything to detract from the story. It was a faithful rendition that was helped out by some great acting (although Jeff Bridges’ seeming inability to move his mouth when he talks freaked me out a bit).
I’d be really interested to know what serious fans of the book have to say. As I said, I only just read it last week, so I don’t have any childhood, emotional attachment to the story, but maybe if it had been my favourite book as a kid I would have been more critical. I think it’s much easier to enjoy adaptations if you aren’t super invested in the book to begin with.
Have you read/seen it? What did you think?