It isn’t often that a Hollywood blockbuster movie with big-name stars pulls off examining the deep, existential questions of life. The Giver does just that, with edge-of-your seat suspense and themes that linger long after leaving the theater. Ultimately, The Giver is about life, freedom, and humanity.
The world in The Giver movie is a colorless, emotionless Sameness, dictated by the all-wise Elders who know what is best for everyone. There is no longer any conflict or division in The Giver‘s dystopian world; however, there is also no passion, or creativity, or love, in this black-and-white society, based on Lois Lowry’s 1990’s novel by the same name.
It is a pleasant tyranny that has obliterated freedom, but nobody realizes what a tragic loss that is, except for the “Giver,” played by Jeff Bridges, who is the keeper of the memories that have been wiped from everyone’s minds. When he begins to train Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, who is the one who has been assigned as the next keeper of the memories, something much feared by the Elders is awakened – that which makes us truly human.
Perhaps when Lowry penned The Giver in 1993, the idea that a nanny-government would attempt to even out differences in an effort to bring harmony and world peace seemed absurd and far-away. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Jeff Bridges has been trying to get a film made from the book The Giver for the past two decades. Now that The Giver, the movie, has finally arrived, 20 years later, many of the concepts in the book/movie don’t seem quite as far-fetched, and The Giver stands poised as a warning.
Certainly the idea in The Giver that an injection or medications can even out extremes in emotion is plausible, and is already happening today. The same society that seeks to eliminate sadness artificially also sacrifices the capacity for joy and love.
Drones and constant surveillance to keep tabs on the populace may have seemed like “Big Brother” when The Giver was written. Now, those are concepts ripped from today’s headlines: the NSA, IRS monitoring of emails, surveillance cameras everywhere, and drones flying in the skies.
Language is a tool used by the elders in The Giver to control thought and perceptions of reality. The term “release” is used as a benign-sounding euphemism for murder of the young and old, but nobody in The Giver world really comprehends that this is exactly what is happening. [SPOILER ALERT] Babies who are imperfect or difficult are not assimilated into the society, but are “released” into “Elsewhere.” The elderly are similarly executed in The Giver. The deception is so deep that otherwise kind individuals can calmly murder newborns or senior citizens without any regret or cognizance that they are killing an innocent person. They believe that they are acting for the good of society.
Belief Net asked The Giver producer Chip Flaherty about that “Orwellian” characteristic in the movie:
“… if you look at a lot of totalitarian regimes it is very reminiscent of the fact that a culture or those in power can use the language and use words to control messaging and control the people. This thing is just a treasure trove of big questions and big concepts (including) the way that language can kind of control the way people think about a given thing. I think when you look at those little girls at the beginning of the movie it’s so interesting because they talk about who was caught and ‘released’ to Elsewhere and the little girl goes ‘I want to be released and go to Elsewhere’ and they’re like ‘Oh, no, honey, you’re too young.’ But it goes to show that she was already embracing the concept. Because of the language, she didn’t understand what it meant.”
With what the Washington Post calls a “horrifying cheerfulness,” Jonas’ father commits infanticide. With heart-stopping realization, Jonas makes the chilling observation that:
“They hadn’t eliminated murder — they had brought it home. They had just called it by a different name.”
Pro-life sources are hailing The Giver as a powerful life-affirming movie. Indeed, it is not difficult to see the parallels between the use of the terms “release” for infanticide and “choice” or “procedure” for abortion. Abortion is typically seen as a quick medical procedure that gets rid of a problem pregnancy. At one time, what was aborted was perceived as just a “clump of cells” or “bits of tissue.” But science and ultrasound have made it clear that babies are well-formed by just 12 weeks of gestation, complete with arms and legs, able to hear and even communicate. Abortion often involves poisoning of the baby in the womb, very similar to the infanticide in The Giver. Other times, it literally involves ripping the arms and legs from the baby as the pieces are extracted. But, as in The Giver, the rationales and language serve to distance people from the reality of what is actually happening.
Kristen Hawkins, the President of Students for Life of America, tells Life News:
“The Giver will go down as one of the turning points in our ongoing efforts to protect the most vulnerable in our society. This movie beautifully articulates the dignity of each human person and the gift of life.”
The Giver contains all the elements of a successful Hollywood blockbuster – a star-studded cast, including Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, and Taylor Swift, with a compelling script, based on an award-winning novel that sold over 11 million copies, and great effects.
Within all of that is a story that appeals to conservatives and liberals alike. Katie Holmes may have said it best to CBS in her summation of The Giver:
“It’s a celebration of life in many ways because you’re seeing what happens when you take away freedom.”