When it came out in 1993, “The Giver” was a rare story. Nowadays a dystopian sci-fi future for tweens is the norm, but back then there was something very special about Lois Lowry’s book. It was a depressing tale of corruption and governmental overreach for us kids!
So it’s impressive to see the new trailer for Phillip Noyce‘s movie version because it delivers on a black and white promise that takes guts to pull off with modern cinema. It’s easy to imagine the suggestion of making a black and white adventure aimed at the YA crowd being laughed out of the room, and there were even fan grumblings [raises hand] when an earlier, full-color trailer landed a few months back, so this is encouraging.
It’s also what makes the narrative changes so surprising. They had the conviction to hold tight to a semblance of the visual concept, but they’ve transformed the story by leaps and bounds in order to make it look like every other YA adventure on the market. Lowry’s book was — like “1984” and “Brave New World” and others before it — deeply contemplative, particularly for a book focused on an 11-year-old boy. It was introspective and philosophically challenging. The movie? Not so much.
Also, you won’t want to watch the trailer if you don’t want to see the entire plot condensed to two minutes. They show pretty much everything here:
Yup. There that is.
And it’s not to say that morphing the story into a conspiracy thriller with chase scenes will ultimately mean a bad movie, but this definitely shifts expectations in a way that shouldn’t be surprising considering Noyce is directing. It’s also not too surprising considering it’s a “Giver” adaptation after The Hunger Games and everything else — feeling less like Lowry’s story and more like Enemy of the State.
On the bright side, Jeff Bridges will be ornery and wise, Meryl Streep has an entire Devil Doesn’t Believe in Prada thing going on that works, and it looks to teach a valuable lesson about tricking computerized immunization machine with common household fruit.
Still, it’s a little jarring to see how much they’ve changed here. Hopefully they’ve been able to translate the story into cinematic language without losing its soul entirely.
The Giver is in theaters August 15th.