The Giver: Movie vs. Book

the-giver-movie-posterMy dad bought The Giver for me when I was in 2nd grade, and when I read it I was particularly moved. Recently, upon the upcoming release of the movie, I reread the book, and found that it made me feel the same way even many years later.

The book has a certain simplicity (despite its heavy themes), and I wondered if the movie would be able to capture it.

This is what I loved:

I’m not sure what you’d call this exactly, but I loved the way the movie was filmed. The first half of the movie was in black and white, which was beautiful, especially as color was gradually introduced. And I also loved the memories the Giver transferred to Jonas. It was just like what I’d pictured in my head.

Both Brenton Thwaites and Jeff Bridges were fantastic as Jonas and the Giver – they truly embodied the characters. There was controversy over the age of the characters in the film, because Jonas and his friends are only 12 in the novel whereas they are 16 in the movie. I think it worked. Jonas’ naivety and innocent curiosity still defined his personality.

And Jonas’ relationship with baby Gabe? Extremely touching.

This is what I disliked:

Fiona, Asher, the Chief Elder, and Jonas’ parents were all given much larger roles in the movie. I can see how it may have been difficult to only focus on Jonas and the Giver throughout the entirety of the movie, but there were aspects of these other characters that bothered me.

In the movie, Jonas shares his feelings with Fiona and even attempts to transfer memories to her. Asher, on the other hand, becomes a drone pilot rather than recreational leader and so is tasked by the Chief Elder in the end to find Jonas and “lose him.” The Chief Elder is very unhappy with Jonas and the Giver, but in the book, none of the other members of the community have emotion, and they certainly don’t enact violence. Again, it was as if the producers felt this was a necessary liberty simply because the movie would have had little conflict otherwise.

The set is interesting – the community is more futuristic than I’d originally envisioned. It’s surrounded by mist, and looks rather like a floating island. (?)

As for the ending, I’m sure those who haven’t read the book will be satisfied. For those who have, the film’s ending sort of takes away the ambiguity of the book’s ending, which is satisfying in it’s own right.

the giverVerdict:

Though there were several significant differences between the book and the movie, I think it captured the overall tone and message of Lois Lowry’s thought-provoking story. I’ve read several articles about her thoughts regarding the movie. She is quoted on a promotional poster: “It’s all there. The boy. The old man. The baby. The sled. If you loved the book take my word for it – you’ll love the movie as well.” And so, to Lowry, it seems, the essence of her novel has not been compromised.


The film rights for this movie were optioned a pretty long time ago, and it’s been in development ever since. I’m glad it finally made it to the screen.


If you’ve read the book but haven’t seen the movie, SEE IT. If you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the book, READ IT.
What were your thoughts??

3 thoughts on “The Giver: Movie vs. Book

  1. Pingback: August Rewind & Review

  2. John Hansen

    I actually haven’t read either the book or the movie, but when the movie comes to OnDemand, I plan to do both in one go. I’m so happy to hear that you liked it! My favorite adaptions are those that make lots of changes (since film is such a different medium) but keep the heart and story of the book the same, which it sounds like this does. I’m extra excited now. 🙂

    1. brooke Post author

      Wow, I’m surprised you haven’t read the book! It’s a pretty quick/simple read, but it’s dense. I’m usually a pretty big proponent of keeping the movie as similar to the book as possible – though I recognize that film is a different medium – but I agree that keeping the essence of the book is most essential. And if that’s done successfully, the smaller liberties don’t matter to me as much. I’m excited for you, too – let me know when you’ve read it and watched the movie! I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge