Trailer Talk: The Giver

I’ve been reading reactions to the newly released trailer of The Giver all morning—after watching it several times myself, of course. This adaptation is one that I’ve been paying special attention to. Lois Lowry has always been one of my favorite children’s writers, and The Giver was my first real experience both with dystopian literature and with a text that seemed to really grapple with the complex ways that culture affects how and what we experience.

In interviews, Lowry has discussed the original premise of the book, which she got from watching her parents’ declining health and memory. She began to wonder, apparently, what happens when we control memory, when we can give it or take it away, and when society as a whole has little memory. Here’s a brief clip of an interview where she discusses memory and The Giver:

Lowry’s book, like many others, has been challenged and banned due to subject matter. I’m glad that I had a mother who not only didn’t hide the book from me, refusing to let me read it, but who actually handed it to me, expressly telling me to read it. Now, the book has become a film, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

For the most part, I’ll reserve judgement until I actually see the film…But I do hope that’s not Fiona in a prison cell that I spy around 1:00, and I do wonder what that jet is doing pulling in Gabriel and Jonas at the end of the preview. I’m not overly annoyed by Jonas’s age, as some people seem to be. Sure, he looks quite a bit older than 11-almost-12, but given some of what happens, bumping up his age seems prudent–not to mention catching a new sector of the audience who will want to see the teenaged eye-candy. I’m also not entirely surprised by what seems to be a larger technologically advanced society than what we see in the novel–Lowry has expressed that she wasn’t interested in sci-fi, didn’t mean to write it, and that worked for the pared down style of the book, but the film has to actually show us all of these things. I’m most worried (which seems in keeping with many) about the black-and-white to color parts of the film. This all seems to be in color, and we need to see those moments when Jonas suddenly sees the red of the apple, of Fiona’s hair, and he and we together begin to realize how far this society has gone to keep everyone “happy.”

Without further ado, here’s the trailer.

So what do you guys think?

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11 Comments

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  1. I was an adult when I read the book but it still touched me. The movie might be OK but it really can’t be the same as the book. The trailer looks interesting, but i think it is a different story.

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    1. Yes, there are parts of the trailer that I think are far off from what I remember, like that big copter-thing at the end. I’m not a purist about adaptations, but I don’t like when large plot points are changed.

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  2. The Giver was one of the first books I fell in love with. We read it in school, in/around 6th grade I believe. It’s one of the all time important books to me.

    I’ll definitely need to re-read this one, because there are things from that trailer I definitely do not recall from the book. But then again, it has been many many years.

    I’m interested in seeing how they do the color part of the story. As in, the trailer shows this in color which makes sense. But I just remember that huge surprise when he sees red hair (trying to not give away too much here, just in case). I hope they don’t ignore that part. It was one of the most memorable parts of the book for me.

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    1. The color vs black and white is something I’ve wondered about, too. That apple, and that hair, were my first inklings, as a young reader, that everything was screwed up somehow. Those moments had a big impact. I hope they’re somehow in the film version.

      Right now I’m mostly worried about what that big copter thing is doing at the end of the trailer. I don’t mind most of the other changes I’ve noticed, like aging Jonas and the Society being less pared-down than it was in the novel.

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      1. Yeah, I dunno what that’s all about. For some reason, I am suspecting a dream/nightmare while he runs with the baby. I hope anyway.

        Since the color visual is such a “surprise” in the book, I hope that they approach it so that the film is already in color, but maybe the “wrong” colors. And slowly Jonas starts to see the “true” colors or something along those lines. But I might be giving them too much credit to think of something like that.

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  3. First off, the trailer gives me a Hunger Games vibe. That’s not to say this is bad– just far from what I envisioned when I read the book.

    However, I tend to think of movie adaptations like critiques. Each reader will likely come away with a different impression, leading to varying critiques. So, this movie is something like the director’s critique (with lots of glitter and grit added for effect, of course). Personally, I think it would be almost impossible to recreate the depth and emotion of the book, but then, Hollywood must appeal to the masses.

    I’m interested to see how it all plays out, but I’m torn.

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    1. I share similar feelings about adaptations. Ideally, of course, I would like for most things to stay the same. But I understand why the book to film translation causes lots of changes, and I think what we’re looking at are re-imaginings in many cases (what you call critiques, which is probably also a good word for it.)

      I think we get some of the Hunger Games/Divergent feeling from it because those texts were influenced by The Giver–but also because those are popular books and films right now, and so the adaptation of The Giver is very likely capitalizing on that.

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  4. I am excited that there is a Trailer out now because this is one of the movies that I am covering as a Litflix on my blog. I have not read this book in ages, but I remember the ending so clearly as well as the mix of emotions. The movie needs to be done differently simply because it is a movie but hopefully it keeps the same emotional levels. Watching the trailer I am a little worried that they are going to ramp up the action because they think that is what audiences will want. At the same time is the trailer playing with expectations to get people in the theatre and then the movie you see is different. It will be interesting to see where they take this because when I heard they were making a movie I was not sure that they would pull it off.

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    1. Yes, I’m wondering if the previews are akin to those of Bridge to Terabithia–those previews led people to believe the film was a fantasy when the story is only tangentially fantasy but is most definitely a drama that deals with death and tragedy. It’d be a shame to have a repeat of that.

      I’ve just recently re-read this for comps, and it’s still one of my favorites. I think this will be a film that I’ll have to clearly separate from the novel, though, in order to get a lot of enjoyment from the film. The novel is sparse in places and doesn’t wrap up in a way that would be satisfactory for a film audience, so I see some changes coming that we’re not even getting in the previews yet.

      My biggest gripe so far, and this probably makes me an old fart, is that Taylor Swift made her way into the film.

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      1. If they wrap up the movie too much I will be slightly disappointed. I enjoy movies that are nebulous about what is really happening, but they have to be done right. I actually really loved The Fountain but it is not perfectly clear on what is occurring. It makes me think and I liked that. I do not think I represent a wider general audience though.

        Also, I am not thrilled about Taylor Swift in the movie either. I am excited for Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep so I hope even if it is loosely based on the book that it is still good in its own right. Although then I question why you couldn’t just call the movie something else but that is a different discussion.

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        1. I think they’ll have to wrap the film up in a pretty big way. I’m wondering if they’ll bring in any of the later books, especially Son, where we find out exactly what happened to Jonas and Gabriel. I always preferred the ambiguity of the ending, but films can rarely end like that without an uproar, especially when there’s a source for what happens “next.”

          And yes–Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, and Alexander Skarsgaard, are exciting casting to me. I just wish, wish that Swift hadn’t been Rosemary. And I don’t know why. It’s irrational, the way I dislike her, but there it is.

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