The first trailer for the big screen adaptation of Lois Lowry's 1993 Newberry-winning dystopian novel The Giver is finally here. I say "finally" because this film has been a long time in the making. Jeff Bridges (who originally envisioned his father, Lloyd, in the title role that he's now playing) has been working for some two decades to get this film made. I haven't been following the development quite that long--only since 2006.
I love this story with its themes of failed utopia, euthanasia, freedom, individuality, the value of human life, and the power of memory and choice. My husband and I read it aloud to each other when it was published, and many of the images in the book still haunt me.
So, I was particularly keen to know how closely the film follows the story--and it turns out, there are some significant differences. In a Christian Science Monitor article, Bridges is noted as saying that film "is taking a lot of licenses." In particular, the CSM article notes that Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) has been aged to 16 (he was 12 in the book) and the role of Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) has been expanded.
In addition, the role of Rosemary (Taylor Swift), the Giver's daughter who died before the novel begins, seems to have been expanded as well. Some changes noted by others include that the entire film is in color, which plays an important role in the novel, where most characters see in black and white. Also, a romance has been fleshed out and hovercrafts seem to be the norm of the day.
Yes, this gives me and other fans of the story pause. Apparently, however, Lowry worked closely with the film, which Bridges says in an EW interview, maintains "the spirit of the story." In addition, I've been following the producers on Twitter, and there seems to be a lot of excitement and passion for the story poured into this adaptation.
The Giver is one of the good stories, the kind that reveals some key truths about the world we live in, the people around us and ourselves--the kind that causes us to reflect on our own lives, why we believe what we do, and even lead us to change the way we see and act in the world. If this film gives us the spirit of Lowry's Giver, then like the novel, it'll be a story worth telling.