Review of The Giver
Imagine waking up in a world where everyone does everything with absolute politeness and precision for the measly price of their individuality. Imagine waking up and not knowing anything from ages past, but not worrying about it because everyone tells you that it’s all fine. That is the plot of The Giver. The least I can say about it is that I have mixed feelings, but let’s start with the basics: the cinematography.
Most shots are typical movements like panning, zooming, shrinking, and the lot. However, there is one thing I have yet to see be used in any other script: it utilizes colors as part of the storytelling experience. Without memories, it is a bleak, black-and-white world where everything is either right or wrong, or as stated by Asher in the film, "If it's the right thing to do, how can it be against the rules?" The protagonist, Jonas, disagrees – he sees in color, with multiple sides to every argument made. He sees how our uniqueness truly creates vibrancy.
Despite the barely above-par visuals, the plot was surprisingly intriguing and the arguments were sound. For a young adult film it proposed many valid points to mull over, especially the struggle we all saw Jonas face: is conformity and blissful ignorance indeed a small price to pay for a mask of harmony and peaceful “Communities,” or are our flaws what make the world a pulsating globe of colorful lives? I started off thinking I wouldn’t budge in my judgement that people deserved to have all the memories, but after that scene where Jonas first sees war and humans killing each other, I was torn: what if it really was worth it to create sameness in order to avoid all conflict?
Then there’s the ironic, not to mention iconic, phrase that permeated the whole film: “precision of language.” In a bid to eradicate miscommunication, the Elders dictated that everyone had to spell out whatever was on their minds. It seems like a great plan that would make conversations easier, but in truth it dulls life. Language was never meant to be overly precise, as that would result in words being twisted and implied meanings dropped. Imagination would be murdered. One cannot be precise with abstract feelings without tainting them with objective descriptions. The very phrase is merely a means to solidify conformity: when nothing but hard facts are stated, feelings and individuality will be suppressed.
The Giver is a fresh take on the dystopian genre, provoking both excitement during the final scenes and deep reflection throughout its relatively short runtime. In the end, it is best summed up through its own words, the very description the Giver himself uses to define dreams: it is "a combination of reality, fantasy, emotions, and what you had for dinner."