Movie Review: The Giver

An impressive rendition of a society drunk on political correctness is portrayed in the 2014 film, The Giver. This sci-fi film is about a community that seeks to sanitize human existence by suppressing emotions and “free thought.” The residents are assigned their jobs for life during an annual graduation ceremony. Older residents are “released” when their service to society has been complete. Similarly, infants who weigh less than others are also “released.” Residents take a daily injection to suppress human emotions. The elders believe that by eliminating individuality and suppressing emotions and thoughts, the society will be free from all the death, pain, and suffering that attend the human condition.

the-giver-lois-lowry-interview
The Giver giving memories to Jonas

Speech is carefully monitored by the requirement to use precise language. Certain words, such as love, have been removed from the vocabulary in order to spare the possibility of pain. The main character, Jonas, is given the job of Receiver of Memory. He works with an older man who somehow has access to previous memories of human existence. Memories of weddings, parties, music, dancing, love—all things which have been eliminated in the community. Also, memories of war, suffering, death, and pain. As Jonas receives these memories from the Giver of memories, he realizes that something is amiss in the community. He begins to skip his daily emotion-suppressing medication and starts to have emotions.

One of the most poignant parts of the film, from a Christian perspective, is when Jonas reviews a video of the “release” of one of the infants in the community. Jonas observes his assigned “father” mindlessly carrying out his duty by releasing an infant. This “release” is euthanasia. Jonas, while watching a recording of the release take place, says to the Giver, “Doesn’t know what he’s doing? He killed him.” The Giver responds, “But he doesn’t know what it means. Just like you didn’t.” Later that night, as Jonas reflects on this, he says something which so poignantly speaks to the current abortion crisis in our nation—and I honestly don’t see how the producers of the film could have missed the connection. Jonas reflects: “This was wrong. They hadn’t eliminated murder. They’d brought it home. They just called it by a different name.” The community had sanitized language and sanitized murder. They thought that by cleaning up the outside of the cup, all would be well. Modern day society does the same thing: instead of calling abortion what it really is—murder—they call it “family planning.” They sanitize murder, having it take place in the calm, serene halls of a Planned Parenthood building. They haven’t eliminated murder. They’ve brought it home. They just call it by a different name.

As the plot unfolds, Jonas is able to return the memories to the society by going beyond some sci-fi memory boundary (I won’t bother explaining how it works). By doing this, he lifts the veil of blindness that had prevented the people from seeing the truth. The movie does a good job of making this fairly climactic.

At the very end of the movie, just after crossing the boundary and freeing the memories, Jonas arrives at a home in a wintery forest. There is a song being sung in the home. The movie ends with Jonas saying, “From far behind me, from the place I had left, I thought I heard music, too. Perhaps it was only an echo, but it was enough. It would lead us all home.” The song being sung in the home was a song about the One who brings true peace to humans. The One who speaks the truth and can truly eliminate pain and suffering. The song was Silent Night. I am continually struck by the Christian references in films. It is unavoidable. Christ is the answer to every problem. He is the only answer.

I recommend this movie. From a Christian perspective, it certainly speaks to issues very relevant in our culture today. As you watch this film, think about how our society has sought to change the meaning of language and suppress the truth by renaming things. There are many more examples from the film that are applicable, but I leave them to you. I do not believe this film in any way claims to be a Christian film, but it speaks powerfully on some issues present in our culture today.


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