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August 21, 2017

The Giver (2014) --- "This Dystopian Society Is Filmed In Black And White. Find Out Why?"

Plot Summary
Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a seemingly idyllic world of conformity and contentment. When he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), an old man who is the sole keeper of the community's memories, Jonas discovers the dangerous truths of his community's secret past. Armed with the power of knowledge, Jonas realizes that he must escape from their world to protect himself and those he loves -- a challenge no one has ever completed successfully. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Books allow the reader to unfold the full potential of their imagination without the limitations of a budget holding them back. Most book-to-film adaptions are not always accurate for many reasons – budget, script, etc. I have heard that while The Giver (2014) is different from Lois Lowry’s book of the same name, it still remains faithful to many elements and is still an entertaining movie. Of course, The Giver is not the most exciting story because of it is another story about what a utopia future could look like if everything was controlled but that doesn’t mean that it is a movie flop. The producers did incredible work of delivering a fairly accurate representation of what a sterile and totalitarian society would look like. The general population follows a set of rules without question or disobedience and the governing leader ensures that his or her's presences is respected and understood. As a result, the people appear content but lack motivation and passion. This brings me to my next point, the message of the film.

     The film conveys a very important message about needing to understand pain and joy. I'm not saying that I want people to know pain or that they must go through hardships all their life. What I am saying is that if we understand to some degree what pain feels like then it makes experiencing joy much more important. There are bad things that happen all over the world, bad things that should never happen but that doesn’t mean the world is hopeless. There is beauty and love and good people in the world, good things that I believe if given the opportunity can redeem the bad. The film puts an emphasis on love as all-encompassing and conveys just enough sorrow for the painful memories. I found both to be appropriate for the film considering that the idea of ‘feeling’ remotely anything is an abstract idea for the characters at first. In addition, I appreciated that they defined a difference between being in a “family unit” and what it means to actually be a family – to laugh, cry, be angry, forgive, and love. It becomes clear early on that the Giver (Jeff BridgesTrue Grit) is trying to impart to Jonas (Brenton ThwaitesPOTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales) a level of understanding of what is needed in the society and why. On the other hand, the Chief Elder (Meryl StreepDevil Wears Prada), who prefers to keep things as they are and is not completely blind to the Giver’s plans, she tends to overlook it a few times which hints at a past relationship (friendly or more) with the Giver.
     The Giver is a remarkable improvement in terms of how the world is graphically depicted and it is amazing to see that there is a focus on the fact that technology has a primary purpose here. For the citizens, technology provides comfort, safety, health, and the protection of its inhabitants but for the ‘government’ technology serves as a way to keep a tight rein on the citizens by using special forces to spy on them every moment of every day. It is quite chilling how little privacy they have in the film, this is because people value privacy and we are also seeing things from a different perspective. On another not, at first the pace of the film is a bit slow and this is primarily due to it being an introduction to the story’s world but once the introductions are over the film starts to pick up. Again, it is not the most interesting story but the way it’s executed, through the cinematography and acting, makes for an interesting presentation.
     The cinematography was helmed by Ross Emery (99’s The Matrix, 09’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and 13’s Wolverine) while Barry Alexander Brown (992’s Malcolm X and 06’s Inside Man) directed the film editing. The use of a black and white look offered an accurate visual representation of how the citizens view the world; either you obey the rules or you don’t. The lack of color also portrays the lack of emotions that the citizens have. Of course, they’re not completely void of emotions but the ‘emotions’ that they do feel are very much muted; happy becomes content, sadness turns into disappointment, anger becomes irritation/displeasure, and love becomes very mild inclination. As Jonas starts to understand more about the purpose of emotions we gradually get to see some hints color come back. This is an exciting way to both develop the film and see Jonas come to a new level of maturity. In terms of the cast, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep are fantastic in bring layers to their character, and the rest of the cast fill their rolls pretty good. The chemistry between Brandon Thwaites and Odeya Rush’s (Goosebumps) Fiona is great, and the friendship they have with Asher (Cameron MonaghanMercy Street) is too. Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) and Alexander Skarsgård (Legend of Tarzan) as Jonas’ parent figures are fitting and fill their roles good. The only concern I have is the development of Fiona’s and Asher’s characters. Considering that towards the end they turn out to be key characters, their actions seem to be random and spur of the moment. In addition, the film doesn’t really offer much room for you to become emotionally attached but perhaps that is part of the film considering that the characters are exactly able to feel emotions either.

     Overall, The Giver is a thoroughly enjoyable movie and the presentation of the emotions is fantastic to see. The cast was great and the cinematography was perfect for the message of the film; how can you appreciate love or joy, if you don’t understand the meaning/actions behind hate or sadness? I always appreciate how films utilize and create new technology in films whether it be more modern like Iron Man (2008) or utopian/dystopian like Hunger Games and Star Trek. It makes me wonder if and/or when we will be able to achieve that kind of technology improvements in our own reality. The ending was a bit anticlimactic but when you look at the entire film, it’s not very action packed to start out with. So instead, the ending is actually quite fitting but there is a doubt that this is all just a part of Jonas’ dream. I guess we will have to decide for ourselves what we believe. The ultimate question is, “is love worth the price of sorrow?”

“You have the courage, let me give you the strength.”
- The Giver

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  3.5 of 5 star
Worth Buying:  3.5 of 5 stars

I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch The Giver (2014).

Movies Similar 
Divergent (2014)
Divergent: Insurgent (2015)
Divergent: Allegiant (2016)
Divergent: Ascendant (TBA)
Ender's Game (2013)
The Golden Compass (2007)
The Host (2013)
Hunger Games (2012)
Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)
In Time (2011)
The Maze Runner (2014)
The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
Minority Report (2002)
Surrogates (2009)
Total Recall (2012)

Cast & Crew
Directed by Phillip Noyce
Writing Credits:
     (Screenplay) Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide
      (Book) Lois Lowry
Produced by 
     Scooter Braun            ---     executive producer
     Jeff Bridges                 ---     producer
     Ron Burkle                  ---     executive producer
     Genevieve Hofmeyr   ---     producer: South Africa
     Noga Isackson             ---     associate producer
     Neil Koenigsberg        ---     producer
     Alison Owen               ---     executive producer
     Dylan Sellers               ---     executive producer
     Nikki Silver                 ---     producer
     Janine van Assen       ---     line producer
     Bob Weinstein            ---     executive producer
     Harvey Weinstein      ---     executive producer
     Ralph Winter              ---     executive producer
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography by Ross Emery
Film Editing by Barry Alexander Brown
Casting By Venus Kanani and Mary Vernieu
Production Design by Ed Verreaux
Set Decoration by Andrew McCarthy
Costume Design by Diana Cilliers
Jeff Bridges                          ---      The Giver
Meryl Streep                         ---      Chief Elder
Brenton Thwaites              ---      Jonas
Alexander Skarsgård        ---      Father
Katie Holmes                       ---      Mother
Odeya Rush                          ---      Fiona
Cameron Monaghan         ---      Asher
Taylor Swift                          ---      Rosemary
Emma Tremblay                 ---      Lilly
Alexander Jillings             ---      Gabriel 12 Months
James Jillings                     ---      Gabriel 12 Months
Jordan Nicholas Smal     ---      Gabriel 3 Months
Saige Fernandes                 ---      Gabriel 6 Months
Renate Stuurman               ---      Dinah
Vanessa Cooke                    ---      Elder
John Whiteley                     ---      Elder
Kira Wilkinson                   ---      Chief Elder's Assistant
Thabo Rametsi                    ---      Robbie
Vaughn Lucas                      ---      Security Officer
Katharina Damm               ---      Nurturer
Jaime Coue                           ---      Vietcong Sniper
Jefferson Mays                    ---      Community

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