‘The Giver’ Trailer: The Dark Secret of Paradise

Published 9 months ago by , Updated March 21st, 2014 at 4:30 pm,

Author Lois Lowry wrote The Giver in 1993, though you would be forgiven for presuming that the book – a Newbery Award-winner and frequent required reading for middle-schoolers – is yet another young adult sci-fi/dystopian knockoff inspired by The Hunger Games, based on the first trailer (see above) for the upcoming film adaptation.

Jeff Bridges (who long ago secured the screen rights to Lowry’s source material) costars in the movie as the “Receiver of Memory” – a.k.a. “The Giver” – the member of a utopian community who is responsible for retaining memories of what life was like before the peace. The protagonist of the story is young Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), who is chosen to become the successor to Bridges’ character by the leaders of his world, headed by the seasoned Chief Elder (Meryl Streep).

Written for the screen by relative newcomer Michael Mitnick and directed by Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, Salt), The Giver film adaptation is clearly cut from the same cloth – in terms of world design and art direction – as recent YA post-apocalyptic movies, be they the Hunger Games or this week’s Divergent (which, no doubt, will screen in theaters with the Giver teaser attached).

However, while all three of those properties share certain themes and ideas that appeal heavily to the YA crowd (coming of age, questioning authority, and so forth), the futuristic society depicted in Lowry’s The Giver novel isn’t so much under the control of a fascist, totalitarian government (a la Hunger Games).

Instead, Lowry’s imagined future (one that’s also depicted in three other novels – Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son) is one where depth of emotion – be it the ability to truly appreciate color or the feeling of love – has been removed from the population. It’s a more abstract dilemma than the one presented by oppressive governments in Hunger Games and Divergent, which probably explains why The Giver movie appears to have refashioned the setup as more of a black and white conflict.

the giver movie trailer The Giver Trailer: The Dark Secret of Paradise

Divergent is on track to perform well enough at the box office to justify bringing the additional books in the series to the big screen. By comparison, it’s difficult to gauge right now how The Giver will do financially; it’s a book that millions of people have read over the last twenty-one years, but the film is arriving at a point where moviegoers are surely beginning to feel burnt-out on this kind of genre narrative.

Fellow YA sci-fi adaptation The Maze Runner will arrive in theaters nearly a month after The Giver, but that one has the advantage of an intriguing premise that lies a greater distance away from the dystopia tree. Maybe subsequent marketing for Bridges’ project will be more successful at distinguishing the movie from the rest of the pack than the teaser manages to do.

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The Giver opens in U.S. theaters on August 15th, 2014.

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  1. I really loved the book and was excited for this movie, but after seeing that I don’t know if I will see it at all. I don’t normally react to much to trailers and I don’t usually make quick judgements but this looks so different from what made the book amazing. so disappointed.

    • Agreed. Great book with great potential, but I don’t care for the direction they’re going. They’re clearly going for the Hunger Games/Divergent tone (not saying there is anything wrong with those movies/books, but I’m very disappointed that this movie is geared toward those crowds instead of the fans of the book). The only thing promising about this movie is Jeff Bridges, and he’s barely in the trailer :(

      I’m not one to quickly judge a movie by it’s trailer, or walks into a movie planning to hate it or love it. But all this trailer does is show how much material and ideas is being stripped away from the book.

  2. I was feeling the same way. If I hadn’t seen the name of the trailer, I would have not correlated this to the Giver at all. Highly disappointed with this.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with both of you. It looks like they’re turning the story into a thriller, and that’s not what the book is at all.

  4. I was hoping it would be in black and white. With the color slowly coming in as Jonas starts seeing it.

    • FOr sure. I remember watching Pleasantville and thinking it was just how I pictured the Giver when I read it.

    • That’s exactly what I wanted and exactly how I should’ve been.

    • Same here, that was a huge part of the story. They took a premise that was different than everything else that is being pumped out right now and made it exactly the same.

  5. They’re playing it too safe, and that will be it’s downfall. Instead of casting young teens they cast people that are in their 20s (I’m assuming playing 16-17 year olds, despite Jonas being 12 in the book), it looks like they won’t be starting the film in black and white like I (see: EVERYBODY) always imagined it, and the tone seems really off, playing more towards action. Instead of being an interesting, artistic film based on one of my favorite childhood books, this is going to get lost in a sea of Hunger Games, Ender’s Game (a film that at least stuck closer to the correct ages) and etc. This is a total bummer.

    • Seems to be general consensus. It’s a shame they are playing it so cookie-cutter safe and generic. This was such a cool story. I hope it’s just a bad trailer edit made for the general mass of people who’ve never read a book. Also, ditto on the black and white thing.

  6. This will turn into NOTHING like the book. From what I could remember, the his girl friend really didn’t do anything it was all him. They should have done it in black and white and then slowly transition to color. And if I remember correctly there really wasn’t that much technology within that community at all right? like they rode on actual bicycles no motorcycles and they definitely didnt have any hoover crafts

    • She’s not even really his girlfriend. She’s a friend who’s a girl, who Jonas was beginning to develop a crush on as he enters puberty and begins to see girls differently.

      I’m not really sure about this movie either, it really doesn’t feel like the book at all. The book’s not even really a YA novel anyway, it’s a children’s book, not a teen book.

  7. Looks. Horrible. Not even black and white!? A key point in the book!? Not everyone dressing the same!? A key point in the book!? Nothing is sameness at all….

  8. I think I would rather see The Maze Runner. Maybe I’ll try the book.