Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Movie Review: The Giver

Probably due to the popularity of The Hunger Games, there have been a spate of books and consequent movies portraying a dystopian future  where a plucky teenaged hero saves the day. The Giver is no exception, and like The Hunger Games and Divergent, it gives us a society ruled by despotic leaders. But in The Giver, the despotism is more subtle.

In "The Community" there is no crime, war, suffering, at least on the surface. But that comes at a price. The government chooses your profession, your mate, and your children. Even your clothes. "Love" is a banned word. Freedom of expression is forbidden. And anyone who is inconvenient to the Community is "released": a euphemism for killing them. This includes babies who do not meet certain standards and anyone who reaches age 65. And life is bland for everyone. In fact, much of the movie is shot in grey scale to emphasize this.

Finally, only one person in the Community is allowed to know history before the Community, called the Keeper. And now it's time to train a new Keeper, and that's Jonas, the aforementioned plucky teenaged hero who, upon learning what he is missing (color, music, dancing, joy, snow) in the Community, tries to spread it his friends. This is forbidden.

The Giver is a little slow and a bit unrealistic at time. But it has powerful moments such as the "release" of a baby. It shows the subtle tyranny of trying making everyone safe from reality, something that is happening now in many places. The philosophy that the all-knowing state will take care of you and protect you, the only price is your freedom is too prevalent in society today. The Giver shows us the logical conclusion of that existence: black and white, bland, where nothing or no one is different.

I enjoyed this movie and recommend it as a study on the tyranny of the nanny state, a happy-faced kind of tyranny versus the hobnailed boot kind of the Hunger Games.

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