REVIEW: The Giver

I went to see The Giver today, since it had been touted as a solidly pro-life movie.

It was that!

I won’t reveal any spoilers, although many of you have probably read the book.

As I watched, I suspected I was both missing things (since it is an adaptation of a book which I had never heard of, much less read) and getting things.  There isn’t any question that this movie exalts human life lived, in contrast to imposed uniformity through technological domination.  Think Brave New World meets Logan’s Run.  Even my comparisons date me: I am not the target demographic for this movie.  Then again, I am not the target for Guardians of the Galaxy, which I had never heard of either, but I thought that was a hoot.

BTW… another story of teens who need to be freed comes up this Friday, the new Jim Caviezel movie When The Game Stands Tall, (I saw an advanced screening of it) which is based on a true story and in which (most) adults are actually good guys. Do NOT miss that.  That is a movie that should have a great first week attendance.

As I watched The Giver was also strongly reminded of the technocrats of modern day Party of Death.  I suspect that that was not the intention of the makers, given that this movie was funded by the Weinsteins.  The movie focused on euthanasia, though not abortion.  But, everything in the movie was start repudiation of big-business abortion.  The falsely compassionate, viciously gentle, abomination of a society, with its eugenics and friendly murder is exactly what the Planned Parenthood, and those to whom they give awards, would hope for us.

And I could watch Meryl Streep read the phone book.  Perfect casting.  She is really creepy, while at the same time retaining some of motherly femininity, which made her ever creepier.   Why is it that all the mass killers in movies today are female?

One of my first reactions is that this is yet another movie about “trapped teenagers” longing to be free from their older oppressors (cf Hunger Games, Divergent, and… coming soon another dystopian teen story The Maze Runner).  I could also tell there were story gaps because of a few improbable leaps in the screenplay.

They did sneak in some Christian imagery, though I won’t say where.  Find it yourself.

But some arresting images will remain with me for a while.  Scenes of euthanasia, or impending euthanasia, were chilling.  They make you want to come out of your chair.  Also, the memory/montage sequences were effective, though I nearly rolled my eyes with one images of courage.

The movie is clean and I can recommend it for pretty much everybody.  It isn’t sophisticated… teens are the best audience.   GOOD!  They are the ones who need to be filled in on what faces them in the future.  I am sure it will spark some conversations if you go to it with your children or a group of young people.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Looking forward to this film which was recommended by Abp. Chaput.

    I respectfully suggest that abortion is euthanasia in its most common form.

  2. JohnE says:

    I’m not familiar with the book, but I just finished watching the trailer. I’m sure some are going to use this line from Meryl Streep’s character as a “pro-choice” argument:
    “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong”

    Perhaps that is the hook to get the right people to listen?

    I look forward to watching the movie.

  3. hald says:

    The Giver may have been funded by the Weinsteins, but it was made by Walden Media who also made The Chronicles of Narnia films among others. Walden Media is owned by the Christian conservative Philip Anschutz, who has said he expects their movies to be entertaining, but also to be life affirming and to carry a moral message.

  4. MariaKap says:

    “Why is it that all the mass killers in movies today are female?”

    Because with regard to abortion, most of the supporters of these mass killings are female. I think the subconscious awareness on the part of pro-choice movie-makers that a woman can put a contract on her unborn child affects their story-tellling.

  5. gracie says:

    I watched the trailer for ‘Giver’ and it seems pretty realistic. The scene where the airplane swoops up the guy with the baby? – isn’t Amazon figuring out how to deliver our packages by drones? And can’t Google identify individuals on the street as we speak? Put it all together and the government will be vacuuming us up if we don’t “get with the program”.

  6. capchoirgirl says:

    The book came out in the 1990s, so it is actually the precursor to today’s dystopian craze, and in many ways, started it. I love the book, and have loved it since I first read it in 1995. I recommend it to everyone.
    However, the movie itself isn’t something I want to see because of the many changes/additions to the story–Meryl Streep’s character being a huge one (the Chief Elder exists for one chapter in the novel), as well as the addition of a love story, and any and all fight scenes with airplanes. None of that is in the book. However, I’m glad to see that the book’s deeply pro-life message (against both euthanasia and abortion) is still there. I will probably see it when it comes out on video, but I’m a super annoying English Major and I believe that you shouldn’t change the text that much if you’re adapting it, unless it’s for super good reasons (like chopping off a bunch of Gone With The Wind and Wizard of Oz for pacing reasons).

  7. Volanges says:

    I read the book when my kids had it assigned to them in school. It stayed on my mind for quite a while so I’m looking forward to seeing how they did this.

    Usually I avoid seeing movies based on books I’ve read because they’re rarely as good as the movies that played in my head as I read. Exception: I had to see a Quidditch game so saw the first Harry Potter movie, didn’t bother to see the rest.

  8. I’m going to put on my curmudgeon hat and say I don’t intend to see it. Maybe it will have a positive influence on people – if so, great!
    Matt Lickona, a devout Catholic whose film insights have never steered me wrong, posted this review. I’m sure people of good taste can disagree, (& I know Father Z has very good taste in cinema) but I wonder sometimes if “message” films get promoted too much while being kinda subpar. I saw For Greater Glory when it was in theaters and that was mostly enjoyable,(6-shooters! henry repeaters!) but for the rambling story and some really poorly thought out dialog that took me out of the movie. I also saw Gimme Shelter and that was good I guess for being grittier than some ‘see no evil’ Christian production, but it wasn’t great either. I’m glad to see pushback against the nihilism of hollywood, but its annoying to have films described as ‘must see’ that are okay at best.
    Regardless, thanks for the review Father!

  9. Imrahil says:

    Dear capchoirgirl,

    off topic but if our rev’d host will suffer it…

    A goat meets another goat who is just chewing a movie reel. Says the goat: “How d’you like it?” Says the other goat: “Well, the book was better.”

    I’m rather generally at your side, though. However, as long as the spirit is still captured… adding a lovestory does make for a major plotline changement, though, and I do wonder wherefrom they would get room for a substantial role of the Chief Elder. Pity.

    Seeing the trailer, also, I’m rather surprised at the fact that this seems to be a colored movie right from the beginning. I mean, the book could not be more explicit in saying: “If you should ever make a movie out of this, then begin in black and white and start slowly using colors, beginning with red.”

  10. Ave Crux says:

    I went to see this movie last night because of it’s mention here on this blog, and then again on EWTN by Raymond Arroyo.

    The movie was certainly less than spectacular in terms of “art”, with some highly improbable scenes during the escape sequence, HOWEVER — it does leave a deep impression in terms of its “message”, even so far as to lend itself to some flashbacks and continuing deep reflection after leaving the theater about the powerful statement it intends to make. For that reason, I think it’s worth seeing.

    We have to get away from this notion that every movie has to be a spectacular in terms of technical artistry and effect, some kind of work of art, in order to be worth anything. This has now become the unfortunate standard of the viewing audiences.

    This movie has a message, and it conveys that message well, and it leaves a deep impression.

    It gave me a deeper appreciation of even the desirability and acceptance of suffering in this life as permitted by God, rather than the unrealistic escapism which we are all led to seek in our present age.

    It also makes one realize the horror of the present trajectory upon which we now find ourselves with pervasive government surveillance even of private citizens, and the attempts to “homogenize” all inequality as being evil, rather than it being a consequence of free will, the human condition in this valley of tears, and the challenges of the living out and seeking of God’s will during our earthly existence.

    It certainly has the effect of making one appreciate all that God permits in this life, as opposed to an artificially controlled alternative that totalitarian utopianists would like to impose on the human race through subtle and not-so-subtle propaganda and government imposed education, like Common Core.

    It further highlights the horror of a culture that has begun to treat human life like a commodity that is expendable to the extent it becomes inconvenient or fails to meet ideal standards, and models for the viewer the inevitable and hideous outcome of that mentality.

    I think the movie is definitely worth seeing. It’s a powerful glimpse into how much more preferable the plan of God is to the artificial standards of men who deny His Sovereign authority.

  11. JesusFreak84 says:

    I want to read the other books in the series (“Gathering Blue” and so on,) before I see the movie. Not that I’m likely to motivate myself to first buy the books and THEN spend way too much to sit in a dark, LOUD theater…I’ll wait until it’s on Netflix or DVD, I suppose.

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