Utopian dystopia: not so giving

Courtesy Photo |Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush star in The Giver

First off for those of you who have never been to a screening in the middle of the day, I highly recommend it. A 2:10 p.m. showing cost me only $5, and I was the only person in the theater.

Courtesy Photo |Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush star in The Giver
Courtesy Photo |Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush star in The Giver

On a more professional note, being the only person in the theater was a relief. Not because I dislike other moviegoers, but because I would be the irritating audience member flashing his phone off every so often to see to write notes in my notebook.

A couple years ago, I read The Giver. Given my background as a filmmaker, I was intrigued with the idea of the book being translated to the big screen. I had my ideas of how things should look and how the plot should be executed.

The Giver is about a dystopian utopian society. Yes, those words are opposite, but here is why I chose to use them.

It is set in the future when people have been genetically engineered to be the same, to only see in black and white with no currency, no music, no emotion. Everyone has the same clothes and possessions.

Compliance with strict rules within the isolated community is enforced.

The idea behind it is, without color, there is no psychological awareness or reaction to color or race; with no emotion, no motive for murder or love.

Sameness is achieved, and everyone lives in harmony like a fairy tale. It is the ultimate form of communism.

Life is completely free from want because it has been expunged from existence through the eradication of memory, erasing the past – except for a couple of specially chosen individuals.

Protagonist Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, is chosen to be the receiver of memories from one of the elders.

He and his teacher, known as the “giver,” played by Jeff Bridges, are the only people in the community with any memory or knowledge of the world prior to their existence now.

The entire plot is a modern take on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in which the gain of knowledge that rewrites what we understand of life is painful.

The film even relates to the Plato story when Jonas narrates, “We were just living shadows.”

When reading the book, I had the image of their world being much lower-tech than in the film.

The movie took a more literal approach to the ending, while in the book, the ending is much more metaphoric.

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