Friday, August 15, 2014

The Giver: Imagine

The Giver: Imagine

By Bobby Neal Winters

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
--John Lennon
Imagine a world with no war, with no hunger, with no disharmony.  Imagine a world in which every person had the perfect family selected for them, the perfect job selected for them.  All the decisions for you are made by a wise council of elders.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Those of you who are fans of The Giver, a book by Lois Lowry, will know that the answer is not necessarily yes.
The book has now been made into a movie.  If you’ve been about it the world, the moment you discover that one of your favorite books has been made into a movie is not one of unalloyed joy.  One does recognize that the movie is a work of art in its own right, but there have been occasions when the movie has missed the point of the book or has subverted it entirely.
Neither of these has happened in the current case.
Indeed, the movie maker has managed to preserve the point of the book without trying to slavishly replicate it in its entirety as Peter Jackson has done to in with The Hobbit parts I, II, and, may the good lord help us when it comes, III.
Preserving the point of the book while only taking a select portion of it, means the movie maker, regardless of his skill, has to rely on the viewer. It is a two way process.  The movie maker has to allow the possibility that he might be misunderstood in order to allow the viewer the possibility of understanding.
All of this to say that there is enough on the screen to allow the viewer to walk away with a lot to think about.
In reviewing this movie, I would like to pay my readers the same respect the maker of this movie did his viewers and allow you to interpret it for yourself. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point towards some details the reader might want to examine.
The movie is shot in black and white with the protagonist, Jonas, gradually seeing more things in color.  While this sort of thing can be done incredibly heavy-handedly (and I classify the Girl in the Red Coat from Shindler’s List in this category, though I still love that bit), here is comes as an absolute necessity of following the book.  It is done in an artful way that shows the power of cinema. I was moved to tears more than once.
Jonas is a variant of the name Jonah, the Biblical prophet. Everyone gets distracted by Jonah’s getting eaten by the big fish, but ignores his role as a reluctant prophet.  One might contemplate a connection here.
One might also want to pay attention to Jonas’ (and Fiona’s) use of apples and the apple’s traditional connection with that ancient story about expulsion from paradise.  It’s kept the Rabbi’s busy for a few thousand years. You might want to think about it for a minute or two.

It’s a good movie from a good book and well worth your time.

1 comment:

Dennis Dickinson said...

Thanks, Bobby, I think I'll read the book as I haven't and maybe catch the movie as well!