Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Giver

By Ellie Trebilcock

Is the book or the movie better?

It’s the most controversial topic between bookworms and movie-buffs. To resolve the long battle between these two passionate types of media consumers, I will compare and evaluate the quality of the book and movie versions of the story.


The Giver book

This Month: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Working my way through my “to-read” list, I finally decided to read the young-adult classic, The Giver. The book follows Jonas, a boy who lives in a community where every part of life is decided for him. When Jonas goes through the ceremony which decides his future occupation, he is chosen to be the Receiver of Memories. Through his training with the Giver, Jonas learns the truth.

I appreciate that The Giver was written in a child’s perspective because it gives the book a feeling of  innocence. Since Jonas is naive, the audience learns the lessons along with the character.

Although The Giver can easily be interpreted to be another book warning about the consequences of communism, I doubt the main message is political. My personal interpretation is the book is about growing up. When we are children, our parents make decisions for us. As we grow up, we are suddenly faced with many choices. At times, young-adults can become fearful of failure and wish someone would make their decisions for them (I know I’ve had these thoughts). However, the book demonstrates that through life experiences we gain wisdom. The Giver advises not to let the risk of failure prevent you from living your life to the fullest.

The Giver moive

After reading the book, I tuned into watch the movie version on Netflix. As I watched, I scribbled down a few of my thoughts:

  • Black and white film?

Movie makers, thank you so much for producing part of the film in black in white!!! As Jonas gains wisdom through the Giver’s memories, he also gains the ability to see in color.

  • Why is Jonas so old?

In the movie, Jonas was about 16-years-old while in the book he was around 12. I was disappointed because what made The Giver interesting was seeing the world from the perspective of a child.

  • Jonas + Fiona?

Alright, I understand that in the book the author mentioned Jonas had a crush on Fiona. But, was the romantic relationship in the movie really necessary?

  • Added villain?

In the book version, the elders are a part of a faceless council and there is no clear bad guy. In the movie, the villain is played by Meryl Streep. I completely understand the filmmakers reason for adding this part. If Meryl Streep wants to be in your movie, you find her a part.

  • Taylor Swift, is that you???

Taylor Swift plays the part of Rosemary in the movie version of The Giver. I may have added half of a star for this reason…Anything with Taylor Swift is quality. It’s just a rule.

  • Holy cow a ton of differences:

Final Rating:

Book- 4 stars

Movie- 2½ stars

Taylor Swift and Meryl Streep can only contribute so much to a film. The bookworms win another round, because it felt as if the movie was conforming to fit in with all of the other dystopian movies. I wish the movie-makers would have taken the time to shape the identity for The Giver.



Meet the Interns: Ellie Trebilcock

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