I first read The Giver in 8th grade. At the time, a lot of the themes of the book were beyond my understanding, but I fell in love with it. When I re-read the book as an adult, I began to comprehend just how profound the story really is. It sheds light on the purpose of opposition - we need to know pain and sickness so we can enjoy pleasure and health. We need to know sadness so we can understand happiness. We need to have agency so we can make wrong choices and learn and grow. Our world can sometimes feel disturbing and tainted, but it is also beautiful and astounding.
When I learned that this book I treasure so dearly was being made into a film, I was kind of disappointed. I worried that the movie would be catered so much to a teen audience that the depth of the story would be lost, and those teens would only care about how it compares to their popular dystopias of today. Some of my fears were put at bay when I watched an interview with Jeff Bridges, and he described his passion for the book and how long it had taken him to bring the movie to fruition. After hearing what he had to say, I decided to trust him, and I decided to focus on what the story means to me rather than what it means to the unknowing teenagers.
I won't go into a critical analysis of the movie, but if you beg the question, "Should I see it?" I will tell you, "Yes!"
The thought-provoking elements of the story are there. Go. Face them!
But with that recommendation comes the understanding that we will not all glean the same things from The Giver.
I went to see the movie with a friend who hated the book, and her presence beside me in the theater reminded me of this quote by C.S. Lewis:
You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw -- but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.My friend and I were staring at the same landscape while a gulf yawned between us. Her criticism was, "It made me cry!" and my response was, "Good!"