HUB Movie Review: The Giver

posted November 5, 2014 in CommRadio by Sofia Westin

What if you didn’t feel the rage of losing a football game (to Ohio State and Maryland?!)? What if you didn’t feel stress when three upcoming exams were on the same day? What if you didn’t sing with joy in the Alma Mater? Well, then you would have the characteristics of people in The Giver.

The Giver is a dystopian story, written in 1993 by Lois Lowry, about a special boy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) who lives in a world where everyone is literally the same; there are no colors, no emotions, and no memories. There is a strict system, with elders who control the society to keep peace and ignorance.

At his graduation, Jonas is assigned the job to be the receiver of memories. His teacher and mentor, is the giver of memories; he helps Jonas understand the past and what life once was. The giver (Jeff Bridges) is not just a historian of events, but a keeper of emotions from a time long past when the people once had them. Through him, Jonas finds out about color, happiness, death, conflict…love. The more he finds out, the more he wants everyone to know that there is more out there. But the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) doesn’t like that. And so the cookie crumbles.

This movie was neither highly favored with critics or audiences. Around 61 percent of the RottenTomatoes viewers liked it, with the critics certifying it rotten with 36 percent. Audiences ad IMDb rated it with a 6.6, and Metacritic gave it 47, meaning most critics were split between the movie being good and bad.

On the Penn State Scale...
1—when Penn State loses a game (Ohio State...),
2—an 8 a.m class (which are awful),
3—a canceled 8 a.m class,
4—free books for a year,
and 5—free Creamery for a year,

The Giver is a 4.2. I really liked the idea that this utopian/dystopian society was controlled by emotion and memory suppression. I was very fascinated with Jonas’ “waking up” to the world of color, emotion and snow! Very good acting on Thwaites’ part to convey that. But I also felt connected through my own experiences of those emotions when I’ve experienced similar events and moments of awe.

I was fascinated with the idea, too, of all of us being, treating and acting the same. It’s as if affirmative action and Title IX never happened. But wouldn’t that be a good thing? That is the question that this movie poses. Would we decrease competition, hate, and conflict if we all see each other as equals in every single way? Yup, this movie is deep.

A fault that I noticed, though not specifically the fault of the screenwriters and prop masters (I think), was the lack of available surveillance of the citizens. Maybe that’s just because I have George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian society in mind where Big Brother always sees you (and this movie is set waaaaay after that, so they should be capable of that), but I digress. I found everything new and fresh until near the end when it all felt a little clichéd.

My one regret for this movie, though through no fault on my own because I don’t control Hollywood, was that Divergent came out before this one. Despite knowing The Giver was published in the 1990s, I did compare Divergent and The Giver. I saw similarities. That was sad. But, dystopian stories and uprisings are in the norm now, so it was only a matter of time before The Giver joined the ranks of The Hunger Games, Elysium, Divergent, Oblivion, among others.

Now, I cannot give an adequate critique in regards to how it is compared to the book. However, I can believe that fans of the book were not too happy with the adaptation solely on the fact that so much goes on. The whole society is not explained, there are probably many more probing questions Jonas may have asked, other emotions he experienced but was not captured in the film. What must Jonas be thinking and feeling? Only a book can really answer that, not voice over. The author, Lowry, created this whole world, but screenwriters only had 90 minutes to show it and tell it. That is always the drawback of movies. It was the same with The DaVinci Code, the movie left out so much detail!

Final words: enjoy the wonderment.

Sofia Westin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact her, email