Imagine a world in which pain has been eradicated, where social engineering and drugs have quelled jealousy, hatred-even love-an egalitarian world where, for the sake of sameness, people’s ability to see colors has been blocked.
Picture a community where destinies are assigned by The Elders, dictators who also get to decide who is inept and should therefore be euthanized-including babies. This is the dystopia depicted in “The Giver.”
Starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift, “The Giver” is the movie adaptation of Lois Lowry’s mind-probing and oh-so disturbing novel.
Disturbing because, in its absurdity, it strikes a chord and sends a warning: When man wants to tamper with nature and control everything to create utopia, he creates dystopia. Worse still, he destroys the very heart of humanity.
Since emotions and impulses must be quashed, art, music, and especially history are removed. No one must know these ancient virtuosities except for one person: the Receiver of Memory (Jeff Bridges). He alone must remember the past in case The Elders have need of his knowledge to help their decision-making.
In due time, at the Elders’ dictates, he must pass his memory on to an apprentice who will then become the Receiver of Memory. (The predecessor becomes the Giver.)
At The Community graduation ceremony for the young people, chief Elder (Meryl Streep) assigns roles. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is surprised to learn he has been chosen as the new Receiver of Memory. Thus begins an adventure into memory and sensations never before imagined by Jonas or his friends. He learns (and shares with his friends) that “There is more. So much more.” The Community has not enhanced the quality of life, but diminished it.
Much of Jonas’ education involves the impartation of knowledge through history. Via vivid flashbacks, he not only sees life-as-it-used-to-be, but he also feels it; he experiences it. But here’s the problem: The flashbacks seem to be biased. There are several scenes of Muslims worshiping Allah and, unless I just didn’t notice them, none of Christians. Yet without the Christian story, there is no History.
Only at the very end of the movie do we see a glimpse of anything possibly Christian as Christmas music is heard wafting through the walls of a cozy house. Not sufficient to picture the impact of God’s Word on the world.
A film of little action and not much color, “The Giver” is nonetheless riveting and delightfully disquieting, and is probably destined to become the next best thing since Hunger Games.
— by Janey DeMeo | Special to ANS