I’m staring at the keyboard, not really knowing what to say… but having so much to say. Thirteen times. I’ve read The Giver thirteen times now. Knowing the story so well and having such a strong vision of what this story was, tainted my ability to be open minded while watching it come to life on screen. I had many students contact me through various social media outlets. Their words were strong and harsh…awful. horrible. what the heck was that? Those are the words they chose to describe what they saw. And I can’t say I blame them.
Honestly, I have such mixed feelings. I found myself wanting to feel something powerful much more than I actually felt something powerful.
Rushed. I kept leaning over and whispering to Dustin… This is rushed. Too rushed. In the book Lowry does an impeccable job of allowing the sensations to linger…writing with such conviction and awe inspiring passion that the reader doesn’t just read the words. The reader gets to actually experience what Jonas experiences. It was such a disappointment to have those experiences skimmed over with a one or two minute flash on the screen. Lowry spends entire chapters describing what it feels like to experience snow and downhill and rainbows and war and connections and love. Tragedy and Joy are written so eloquently that the reader is left with a heaviness of having gone through it with Jonas. I was left feeling a little jipped. I was left feeling sad for the people sitting around me who hadn’t read the book. I asked them all. Most had not read it.
With so much to say and not even having the words… I’ll just list. A bit ironic to list when I needed so much more depth tonight. But that seems to be the best way to make sense of it all. I was jotting down words and phrases in the dark…on a notepad… with an itty bitty golf pencil… because Dustin was afraid I’d get us kicked out if I typed notes on my phone all night. So, I give you my scribbles:
1. Drone pilot? – Asher’s not a drone pilot! He is chosen to work as an instructor of recreation!
2. “Knowing what something is is not the same as knowing how it feels” – spoken in the film by Jeff Bridges (The Giver) but not present in the book. This made me laugh because it was exactly how I was feeling at the time he said it. It would appear to me that the screen play writers knew what this story was but not how it felt.
3. Why are they showing the house this soon? It doesn’t make sense to show the house this soon. – The Giver gives Jonas a memory in the book where Jonas first comes to the realization of what love is. He experiences it in a house in winter time. There are grandparents and gifts and hugs and laughter. But all we see is a house in the movie…and way too soon! The experience is left out.
4. Keep the music! – The Giver tells Jonas in the book that it came differently to him in the beginning. It wasn’t seeing beyond. It was hearing beyond. It was music, not colors. Jonas selflessly tells the Giver to keep it for himself and not give it away. This was a strong display of Jonas’s love for the Giver. But in the movie, music is given away so haphazardly without any regard. I didn’t like it.
5. I keep missing the experience.
6.Jonas’s mother and father seem to know. – In the book they are carefree because they do NOT know. The film’s tone and mood was one of secrecy, danger, rebellion. In the book, I am sad for the characters surrounding Jonas and the Giver because they do not know what they are missing. In the book, I am angry at the characters surrounding Jonas and the Giver because they seem to be working hard to withhold truth from Jonas.
7. They entered the Annex! – It felt like a huge invasion. Lowry magnificently sets that annex room, where the Giver lives, apart. It is almost holy. But they just tear the walls down with no respect and no understanding in the movie. It didn’t feel right.
Now…Here at the end is where my notes change. The number one reason my attitude changed at the end was because the ending was new and fresh.. it wasn’t the book. It was different and untainted. Clean from what I knew.
8. Jonas’s realization that he is responsible for the lack of emotions is crucial to the new ending.
9. Jonas now has a specific purpose for wanting to make it past the boundary. In the book, Jonas is escaping to bring back joy. But in the movie, Jonas is escaping to free Fiona from death. He is escaping to free the Giver from his punishment as well. There is a sense of purpose. No ambiguity whatsoever. He NEEDS to break that boundary.
10. Fiona’s plea to Jonas’s mother is beautiful. It is also not part of the book, which is why I could see the beauty in it. It hadn’t been tainted.
11. The Giver’s plea to the elders was just as breathtaking. He throws caution to the wind and allows it all to escape. His heart is right there for them all to see and hear…. and he does that knowing that it’s gone on far too long, keeping it all inside.
12. That baby! – Oh did that sweet little boy steal the show
That’s all I’ve got. I don’t know how to eloquently write my feelings on this one because they are so mixed and jumbled up. I will end by saying that I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking with books. You just can’t cram all that emotion into an hour and a half long film.