This afternoon, my stepdaughter and I saw The Giver, a movie that portrays a bleak future of government control. As the scenes rolled by, a couple of things went through my mind.
First, I am a huge fan of dystopian movies, and, some time back, I wrote a post about some of my favorites. Certainly, there are essays that examine these movies and their popularity. I am sure someone has written about how they are born from the times in which they are made. Many of them are adapted from books, and those books have a message hidden between the lines. They are critiques of society placed in a future environment.
I am not going to write anything that deep about The Giver. Instead, I am going to write about the second thing I thought about as the scenes rolled by. Some of those scenes brought laughter from a few of the people in the theater, and, honestly, there were few scenes meant to be funny. They were laughing because the movie was made too late.
I felt that they were laughing for a couple of reasons. One was that they thought the movie was a copy of recent dystopian films. The Hungers Games, famously adapted from books, has ushered in a ton of copycats, and, on the surface, this looks like one of them. There is the semblance of a love triangle among a teenage girl and two teenage boys. There is a young person who takes on the role of savior for the beaten down society. The list can be lengthy.
However, there is a catch. The Giver was written 13 years before The Hunger Games. That is why this movie was filmed too late. For those who have not taken the time to read the book, The Giver looks like a copycat. In reality, it may be the other way around.
I read that Jeff Bridges has been working for 20 years to bring The Giver to the screen. It is funny that he was finally able to do it after the success of The Hunger Games. Apparently, Hollywood did not want to take a chance on this story without knowing if there was an audience for it. That decision did a disservice to a great story.
That brings me to the other reason that I felt people were laughing. They had never read the book. The Giver is a story about a boy who has the ability and the drive to break out of an oppressive society. To set the stage, the movie and the book show just how oppressive that society can be. The book and the movie take these elements seriously, but some in the audience saw the behavior on the screen as dumb. Either they did not understand, or they were comparing the movie to The Hunger Games.
My stepdaughter, who loves The Hunger Games, liked this movie, as well. She asked if they were going to make another one. Like The Hunger Games series, there are three books about the world of The Giver. Obviously, The Hunger Games empire is at full force, and the movies are being cranked out. Unfortunately, I do not think the same will happen with The Giver. This is unfortunate because I think the books are better.
I am glad that I read the book before seeing the movie and suggest to everyone that they do the same. Heck, the book should be read whether you see the movie or not.