Critical Assessment: “The Giver”

In step with the wave of popular young adult novels-turned-films, an official trailer for the film version of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” has been released.

The film, produced by The Weinstein Company, is based on Lowry’s 1994 Newberry Medal-winning dystopian novel about Jonas, a young boy about to turn 12 and receive the job title that he’ll have for the rest of his life. Once he is appointed as the  new “Receiver of Memory,” Jonas learns the world as he knew it isn’t what he thought it was.

The trailer is only about a minute and a half long and doesn’t offer much story, but plenty of visuals. The editing is extremely fast-paced. There may be at least 40 shots (I lost count at the flashing montage) stacked into less than two minutes. The voiceover and the dramatic score gives a sense of impending doom, but again, not much story.

Additionally, all the scenes are shot in color. One of the poignant revelations of the novel is that neither Jonas, nor anyone in his community experiences color, because the community banned it in order to have “Sameness.” There is a possibility that only the trailer was shot in all-color.

Having read the book,  the trailer does not attract me to the film. The shots are so quick that I felt like I needed just a couple seconds more of each shot to actually see the scene. (The length of the shot of Jonas and the Giver felt the longest, and it was only about six seconds long.) The trailer reminded me much more of the recent “Hunger Games” films rather than what I envisioned for “The Giver,” but that may be a selling point for fans of other films based on young adult novels.

The film opens in theaters on Aug. 15.


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