My sister Linda and I got to enjoy a movie this evening and have some girl time. She picked the movie although it was one we both wanted to see. For my first today, I watched the film The Giver.
The Giver stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan and has a brief cameo by Taylor Swift. It was directed by Phillip Noyce and is based on the novel by the same name by Lois Lowry. This sci-fi drama is rated PG-13, for mature themes and mild violence, and has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes.
Set in a future time after a war called “The Ruin”, a community exists without crime, hate, fear, danger, suffering or differences. Also missing are books, art, music, and color….the residents experience the world in black & white and the movie begins that way. The citizens have also lost being unique and different, freedom of thought and action, and emotions, including love. Three young adult friends, Jonas, Fiona and Asher, (Thwaites, Rush and Monaghan respectively) have completed their education and are being assigned their jobs and roles in life. Fiona becomes a nurturer and Asher a drone pilot but for Jonas, there is a special role given. He is selected to become The Receiver. From an older man (Jeff Bridges) called The Giver he will receive all the world’s memories, which are kept from the residents of the community. Only to Jonas, who is deemed strong enough, will the memories be entrusted. Jonas is recognized as being different, in a world where sameness is not only encouraged, it is a rule. Jonas sees beyond. He sees more. Ten years previously, The Giver had attempted unsuccessfully to pass on the memories to another named Rosemary (Taylor Swift). It is hoped that Jonas is more capable.
Becoming The Receiver is thrilling to Jonas, as The Giver begins to show him what the world was really like before, via his stored memories. Color begins to appear as Jonas’ eyes are opened. Emotions begin to surface from deep within as the young man ceases to take the daily “health” vaccination. He also begins to recognize the flaws in the so called perfection of his current world. In an attempt to prevent future war, the Elders have created a society where choice is taken away and everyone lives by the same rules. Love has been forgotten. Babies are created and nurtured in a facility until such time that they are considered strong enough to live with a family selected for them. The elderly and the unselected among the babies are “realeased” into Elsewhere.
As he receives more and more from The Giver, Jonas recognizes that the safety of his community is really control and manipulation. Being released is death. The vaccines suppress all deeper emotions. He sees that his parents (Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes) are well trained pawns and that Fiona, the young woman that he is growing to love, must be awakened, along with the rest of the community. He discovers that Rosemary was The Giver’s daughter and that he loved her very much. When a baby named Gabriel is destined for Releasing, Jonas intervenes, rescuing the child and fleeing for the mysterious Elsewhere beyond the borders of his small community. The Giver tells him if he can reach the boundary, all memory will be restored to the citizens. His own future and that of his world is at stake as Jonas sets out on a journey of freedom.
This was an interesting movie to watch, leaving me with much to think about! I loved the use of black and white film in the “perfect” but boring world that was created for everyone’s safety. As Jonas, and The Giver before him, discovered maintaining order, following the rules, not feeling, and being safe, do not equal LIFE. The messiness and chaos of deeper emotions, such as love, fear and desire are what make life vivid, powerful, meaningful. The arts and literature flow from those emotions. The freedom to choose, to make mistakes, to experience pain infuse life with color.
I thought the film was very well done and enjoyed Jeff Bridges as The Giver and Brenton Thwaites, who was a newcomer to me, as Jonas. I loved that he had the ability to see beyond and nurtured that ability, even when no one else understood what he saw. One of my favorite quotes from the movie says it all for me: “Have Faith, The Giver told me. He said Faith…that was “seeing beyond”. He compared it to the wind. Something felt but not seen.” Seeing beyond, for me, is like that, being present in this moment, and yet seeing beyond, feeling beyond, the present circumstances, situations or trials, to a largeness of life that calls to me in the midst of all that is now. It brings my head up with anticipation and opens my awareness. And my heart, indeed my whole being, responds to that call!