What would it be like to live in a world where people were assigned their careers by an all-powerful state? Who would want to live in a place where emotions, sensations, and pain were neutralized by a daily dose of a drug? Would you want a world without war or crime but devoid of love, color (literally), ambition, religion, or memories of the past?
Those questions reflect the grim setting for The Giver, a new Science Fiction movie starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, and Brenton Thwaites. The story, adapted from the novel by Lois Lowry, revolves around Thwaites’ teenage character named Jonas. He is uniquely chosen by the “Community’s” Elders (led by Streep) to receive special knowledge from a recluse called “The Giver” (Bridges). Their relationship is a little reminiscent of that of Obi-Won Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Jonas is to learn and experience the true and painful history of the human race in order to act as an advisor for the Elders.
Jonas goes through his learning process, which is done by a psychic transmission of memories from the Giver. As he progresses, his eyes are awakened to the falsity of his world. He begins to question the wisdom of the mindless and emotionally cold existence of the people of the Community. I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t reveal any more of the story.
The Giver does not purport to be a Christian movie but it definitely examines key issues of how human life and death are intended to be experienced and understood. It would make an excellent catalyst for discussion and Bible study especially for older youth and college students (particularly the final scene). It contains no sexual content or obscene language but is rated PG-13 only because it shows a few very brief images of war and suffering.