Warning: This entire post is very spoilery!
Twenty-one years after publication, Lois Lowry’s The Giver is finally being adapted into a film.
I am not sure what to feel about that.
I don’t remember precisely when I first read the book, but I think I was about ten. It was among the first science fiction stories I read and Lois Lowry’s work has been a huge inspiration to write my own novels. I’ve spent hours making up my own casts for the movie and wondering who should compose the score. I probably talk about The Giver way too much on this blog.
You can see that I’m very invested in this movie.
The only catch is, of course, that when you’re extremely excited for something you tend to have high expectations. Often impossibly high expectations. And that means you’re more easily let down. I don’t want to be disappointed by this movie but judging from promo pictures and interviews and whatnot, I’m probably not going to get what I had hoped for.
I’ll reserve any final judgments until after I see the film, of course, but in the meantime here are some thoughts (both good and bad) on the information about the movie that I found here.
Jonas will be sixteen instead of twelve.
No. Just no. It’s the Ceremony of Twelve, you utterly incompetent filmmaking fools, not the Ceremony of Sixteen.
This affects the film in three ways. Two of them relate to the bits of info (in bold) immediately following this one. The other is that I feel the filmmakers are missing the point. Yes, twelve is a very young age to be handling so much responsibility. That’s kind of the point. Jonas is supposed to be terrified and overwhelmed. Oh, he does his best, but it’s still difficult.
And now they’ve just turned the movie into the stereotypical every-dystopian-hero(ine)-is-sixteen thing. (Seriously, why are there so many sixteen-year-old protagonists in YA fiction?)
There will be a romantic subplot between Jonas and Fiona.
NO! No no no no no!
I’m sorry. I just feel really strongly about this. I don’t mind love stories – but it doesn’t have to be in everything, and especially not in adaptations of stories that didn’t originally come with romance.
The director, Phillip Noyce, said in the article linked to above: “In the book, the younger pubescent Jonas has a flirtation with a young girl of his age. That’s almost a love affair in the film.”
OK. Putting aside my issues with unnecessary romance… whaaaat?
There was never a flirtation with Fiona. Jonas loved her, yes, but as a friend. The only indication that Jonas might be interested in Fiona came when he dreamed about wanting her to bathe him, and I’m lost as to how that equals a flirtation. Flirtation requires flirting. Flirtation also usually involves both parties of a potential relationship (and if it doesn’t, it’s called stalking and creepiness).
Secondly, Fiona. Can’t. Love. Jonas. Back. She doesn’t feel love. She doesn’t feel much of anything. No one but the Giver and Jonas have true feelings! Again, both people need to be involved for there to be a love affair. A better word to use would have been “unrequited love.”
Jonas, you of all people! Precision of language, please.
(Sorry, but that quote is just too perfect not to use.)
I realize that everyone pictures characters differently, so whether or not a character looks “accurate” is highly subjective. I guess I just don’t understand why attractiveness matters in this movie. This isn’t supposed to be a story with heartthrobs – of any gender.
Meryl Streep will play the Chief Elder.
Nice name, by the way. Anyway. I think I’ve only seen her in Julie & Julia, so I’ll probably think of Julia Child during her scenes – I’ll keep thinking of someone goofy and not some stern leader. As I probably haven’t seen Streep in anything else, I don’t feel like I can make any other comments. Moving on.
I have no idea who many of the other actors are, with one exception.
Cameron Monaghan? Katie Holmes? Alexander Skarsgård? Jeff Bridges? Brenton Thwaites? Who? I don’t know who many of these people are. Yay!
Why yay? Because I won’t associate their faces with those of other characters they’ve played. Consider Emma Watson. To my generation if not others, she is Hermione Granger.
Maybe some of these people are famous and not almost completely unknown. That’s fine. But I myself have no idea who many of these people are and I love it that way. I don’t want someone cast just because they’re famous, anyway.
Taylor Swift will play Rosemary.
Yes, she was the exception.
Why must you hurt me in this way?
I don’t understand this. At all. I didn’t know she could act. I didn’t even know she could sing.
I’m sorry, that was mean. Let’s be honest – I am not a fan of Swift’s music – but her songs aren’t why I’m disappointed about her role in the movie.
My issues are as follows. Firstly, I think she’ll be like Emma Watson in that you don’t see the character. You see someone else. You’ll see Taylor instead of Rosemary, and I think it’s going to date the movie.
Secondly, Rosemary is supposed to be no more than twelve in the book. Even after her age was adjusted for the film, she’s still only sixteen. Taylor Swift is twenty-four. I know she looks young, but she doesn’t look that young. Can we please cast actors who are actually close to their character’s age? (Why is Jennifer Lawrence so much older than Katniss?)
Asher and Fiona were cast perfectly.
Cameron Monaghan will play Jonas’ goofy, clumsy friend and boy does he look absolutely spot-on for the role. BIG yes! His smile looks very mischievous.
Odeya Rush was cast as Fiona. I had never heard of her before but I’m looking forward to seeing her act for a somewhat odd reason. I often picture characters looking similar to people I know in real life. I imagined Fiona looking like this girl I attended elementary school with. I don’t even remember her name now, but she had lovely curly reddish-brown hair just like the book’s description of Fiona’s so I always associated that girl with that character. Well, Odeya Rush looks like that girl.
One of my favorite characters (albeit a minor one) in the book has been cast just as I wished. Hurray!
(Also, I would like to add that the actors playing Asher and Jonas are in their twenties but Rush is actually her character’s age.)
(Wait, that means she’s younger than me. Huh? I can’t wrap my mind around the idea that kids younger than myself star in big-name movies.)
There is no mention of the score’s composer.
I’m not counting this as a bad thing – just making an observation. A lot of people probably don’t care about film scores and that’s OK, but I do and I kind of wish I could find information about who will compose for The Giver. I haven’t been able to find that anywhere. Personally, I think Alexandre Desplat would do a fine job – his work in The King’s Speech has the same sort of mellowness that I think would fit The Giver.
There is no mention of colors in the film.
The biggest reason I wanted a film version of The Giver was not the story. It wasn’t even the characters. It was that the movie had the potential to be cinematically gorgeous.
At the beginning of the story Jonas sees his world in only black and red, but gradually other colors bleed through – red is the first. Finally, he “has all the colors, to keep.”
I CANNOT DESCRIBE HOW COOL THIS WOULD APPEAR ONSCREEN. I don’t know much about filmmaking technology but I would assume that if people can now use CGI for an entire movie, there must be some sort of camera filter or whatnot that films in partial color. I think that even if I disagreed with multiple other divergences from canon, filming it this way would rescue the movie for me. It would look neat and lend more depth to the movie.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming film adaptation of The Giver? What are you looking forward to? Is there anything that you think the filmmakers will mess up?
P.S. The movie will be out on August fifteenth, around the same time that Doctor Who‘s eighth series will air. I don’t know how I can handle so much science fiction awesomeness – or so much potential for disappointment!