In the community, rules dictate life. Everything you do, say, and eat is monitored by the elders for the purpose of peace…. And it works. Devoid of emotion, color, or change life continues in the same way day after day after day… Until at the ceremony of graduation, a boy named Jonas is chosen. Chosen to be the next “Receiver of Knowledge” because of his ability to “See Beyond”. To be the only one in the community to experience such things as colors, emotion, and faith. A burden to bear for the good of all.
Jonas soon finds however, that these new feelings are not only beautiful, but to live without them is meaningless. With that knowledge, he decides it is time for a change. A change which will destroy the community, but enlighten those living within it. But first, he must complete his teachings from the former Receiver of Knowledge. Known only as “The Giver”.
Things I Liked
When Jonas begins to experience life as it originally was created to be, with emotions and a release from his vulcan mindset, he begins to experience the three greatest qualities found in mankind. That is- faith, hope, and love. Through the film these three qualities, or, essences of human nature are delved into through past memories and present circumstances. We are shown that love is the most powerful of all. Love is what drives The Giver to help Jonas. Love is what drives Jonas to risk his life so that the community may experience life as it was meant to be. Faith gives him the hope that things could be better, and then, we see him rewarded for those efforts.
Jonas also, because he has been given memories of faith hope and love, commits himself to serving his community in making a way so they may experience what he has experienced. He, in essence, sacrifices his social life, and risks his physical life for the ultimate freedom of the community. He is a character with courage, integrity, and to be applauded for the risks he takes. Jonas’ friends also, even though under the drugs of emotion suppressant, aid Jonas in his task. Loyal to the end, we see some things drugs just cannot remove.
When we are introduced to the community, it is dull, unexciting, and bland. We are shown that emotions are, in fact, things which make humans have humanity. Even in the fallen state in which we live, the gift of emotions help us to live in a manner which is more natural and beneficial. To remove this, while it would create an temporary artificial state of cooperation. It is by no means something to be pursued.
It was said by one of the Elders “We can’t let people choose, for when humans choose- they always choose wrong.” I think this is one of the best quotes found in the movie. The elders recognize man’s fallen and erroneous state completely. No one in the film is claiming they are good, or perfect. Rather, we see leaders making decisions, albeit flawed, to suppress mankind’s nature through chemicals so that they might make choices which are better for the community, and not selfish.
Things I Didn’t Like
Jonas and a girl named Fiona kiss secretly, because to do so is against the community rules.
Some of the memories The Giver provides Jonas are painful an violent. We are shown poachers slaughtering elephants, and later we are snapped into a violent war where we see men shooting each other up, and then we, with Jonas, watch a man die as the light leaves his eyes.
Jonas punches one of his friends.
At one point, we see people “released” which is another word for euthanasia, or allowed murder. It is a terrible and gut wrenching thing to watch, made even worse by the fact it is mindlessly celebrated by the community.
“The ability to see beyond is Faith.”
This movie is based on a book written by “Louis Lowry”. Enjoying the book immensely, I’d been looking forward to the release of this film as the story was so good. The trailers concerned me however, because it set the feel as an intense action thriller, rather then a reflective pondering on humanity. I can say with relief though, that the movie captures the essence and feel of the book about as perfectly as an adaptation can. Everything of importance is included, and some extra character development of Jonas’ friends are thrown in too. Take confidence, if you loved the book, you’ll enjoy the sameness found in the movie.
Rarely does a film these days show up with such messages and themes that make you sit through the whole credits thinking… Wow. The Giver is a movie such as this. Capturing essential and hard questions about humanity, and then giving solid answers which will make you think and dwell upon. Things like the power and necessity of Faith, Hope, and Love- then showing the greatest of these is indeed Love. Exposing the true nature of humanity, yet also capturing the beauty of our condition.
We see simply, when man tries to suppress God given gifts in order to live in perfection, the result is a dull and lifeless survival. Void of anything worth living for. The Giver takes this “ideal society” and through a young man named Jonas, shows the flaws in a clean, original, and memorable way. Full of humor, suspense, and ponderings, This movie is by far the best of 2014 in my opinion. One worthy of commendation and praise, as it gives far more than memories.
How about you? Have you seen this film? What did you think? Let me know!