Can The Giver Stay Faithful, While Adhering to the Young Adult Trend?

TheGiverBookandMovie SPOILER WARNING: Some plot details of The Giver will be discussed in this post Today I saw the full-length trailer for the new film adaptation of The Giver.  As someone who read the book as a teenager, I was quite intrigued by what the film adaptation would be like.  The film is being produced by (and stars) Jeff Bridges, who was trying to develop a film adaptation of The Giver, ever since the novel came out 20 years ago.  This made be believe that the film would try and stick as close as possible to the source material.  However, based on the latest trailer (which I do not want to link to, for reasons I’ll explain), The Giver is really starting to look like just another film in the current trend of Young Adult adaptations, which also includes The Hunger Games and Divergent. While the new trailer does indeed follow some of the same beats of the book, including the fact that the lead character of Jonas initially sees the world in black and white, there are also some glaring changes made in the story.  The most glaring of these changes is the expansion of the Chief Elder, who is played in the film by Meryl Streep.  The character only appears briefly towards the start of the original novel, however here the character is expanded to essentially become the antagonist of the film.  This really puts The Giver in line with both The Hunger Games and Divergent, which both feature dystopian societies with totalitarian leaders. The new trailer for The Giver really wants to hammer in the fact that, despite being an adaptation of a novel written in 1993, the film adaptation belongs in the same league as all the other dystopian young adult adaptations being made.  This includes the trailer giving away what is probably the biggest plot revelation of the book.  One of the key factors of The Giver’s dystopian society is the mystery surrounding people in the community being “released.”  When Jonas finds out what being “released” means, it ends up being a major turning point of the story.  However, the new trailer is not afraid to visual and audibly reveal what “releasing” is, which will result in those seeing the film not having the same level of shock that I felt when this revelation was made in the book. Also, the less said about the film adding a possible romance between Jonas and Rosemary (Taylor Swift), the better.  While it’s somewhat understandable that the ages of the characters were increased from 12 to 16 for the movie, it still seems a bit hokey that they would throw in a romantic subplot, just because it’s apparently obligatory in these types of films.  Probably the closest element from the book that’s in the film is Jeff Bridge’s performance as The Giver, which makes sense, since he’s the guy who fought for the film to be brought to the big screen. I’m still going to probably end up checking out The Giver, even though its August 15th release date conflicts with The Expendables 3.  However, I still wish that the film was more of its own thing, than merely a copy of a cinematic trend.

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).