From Book to Film: The Giver

the-giver lois-lowryI am familiar with dystopia, but I have read and watched very few works in this genre. Knowing that the film adaptation starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep would open in theaters on Friday, I decided to read Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993). It is a clear precursor to novels like Divergent (2011), but it took twenty years for an adaptation to appear on screen.

I rarely watch films in theaters, preferring to see DVDs at home. I still decided to see The Giver trailer, and I was disappointed. It reminded me of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. C. S. Lewis’s third Narnia novel (1952) is lyrical and has little conflict, but Walden Media’s adaptation (2010) is filled with it. The main conflict is unnecessary and absurd. They ruined an excellent children’s book. Likewise, The Giver has mostly internal conflict; Jonas’ world does not feel like a dystopia until he meets the Giver. Yet dystopia and external conflict pervade the trailer. I also disliked the changes in Streep’s character, since her role in the novel was not threatening. So I hesitate to watch this film, even on DVD.

I wish a British producer had adapted Lowry’s novel. Americans often focus on action, to the detriment of character and atmosphere. The Giver (2014) is just the latest example.

5 thoughts on “From Book to Film: The Giver

    • You’re right. They can be misleading. “Noah” (2014) was an excellent example. I preferred the trailer to the film. I still can’t see a reason for not only expanding the Chief Elder’s role (Streep) to making it a scary one. Jonas’ world never felt like a utopia either. The trailer’s tone was wrong, so unlike the book. I can live with making Jonas and his friends older, but not this. I’d love to know what others think, people who actually had a chance to watch the film.


    • I read all the IMDb and Metacritic reviews, so I was right about the trailer. This script trashed the book, just like Dawn Treader. But Walden isn’t responsible. The book is closer to 1950s Pleasantville than the film’s sci-fi world. They got Jonas’ meeting with the Giver wrong too, making it an unpleasant accident rather than his adult assignment. And the Chief Elder is supposed to be benevolent, not Streep’s ‘wicked witch of the west.’ Ugh.


  1. I was terribly disappointed by this movie. Not because the movie was bad or anything (it was, but that’s not the point), but because the book is honestly a favorite of mine. A shame that Hollywood can’t seem to get it right, once again. Nice post!


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