After spending almost 20 years in development hell, a Hollywood adaptation of Lois Lowry’s controversial, dystopian classic The Giver is finally on its way to theaters, thanks to the dedication of actor Jeff Bridges, who fought alone for many years to turn the book into a movie before Harvey Weinstein agreed to board the project in 2012.
Bridges, who originally planned to have his late father play the title character, will take on the role of the Giver himself, as well as serve as a producer on the film. The story follows a young man named Jonas (newcomer Brenton Thwaites) who contently lives in a community where “sameness” is the norm. In his society, each individual has a specific role and, on his 16th birthday, Jonas is selected to become the next Receiver of Memories. When Jonas begins to receive all of the memories of humanity’s past, both beautiful and evil, he is shocked to discover the sacrifices that his community’s elders once made in order to protect their perfect existence.
With an August 2014 release date now confirmed for the film, TWC is launching into early publicity for The Giver with two photos from the film, focusing on Bridges and Thwaites. The images, which you can check out at the bottom of this article, come courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, who also spoke with director Philip Noyce and Bridges about the themes of their adaptation.
In The Giver, “The past is considered to be potentially polluting,” explained Noyce. “This is a world where complications are eliminated. Jonas himself goes on a journey as he finds out what’s missing. He starts to investigate what’s causing it. And that’s the beauty. That’s what makes the book so popular, it’s an investigation in ways of living.”
Lowry worked closely with Noyce and Bridges throughout the production, so fans of the book need not worry about an adaptation that’s unfaithful in tone, despite several changes to the plot. For one, the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) takes on a much larger role in the film than she did in Lowry’s novel. “I was happy to hear from Lois that she wasn’t so concerned about all the facts being the same as in the book,” said Bridges. “The spirit of the story is there.”
Another change that might ruffle some feathers is that Jonas, who was 12-years-old in the book, has been aged up to 16. “The movie will not be an exact duplication of the book. It’s taking a lot of licenses,” Bridges admitted, adding that he “originally kind of balked at the idea of making the lead character older.” However, Bridges has nothing but praise for Thwaites’s performance, saying that, “We were so lucky to have Thwaites play this role. He does a beautiful job.”
Noyce added that romance will factor into the plot of The Giver. “In the book, the younger pubescent Jonas has a flirtation with a young girl of his age. That’s almost a love affair in the film,” he said. Odeya Rush, known for her roles in The Odd Life of Timothy Green and We Are What We Are, will play the love interest, named Fiona.
Rounding out the cast are Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgård as Jonas’s parents, Taylor Swift as Rosemary, a girl connected to the Giver, and Cameron Monaghan as Jonas’s best friend Asher.
Tell us, are you interested in seeing a film adaptation of The Giver? It seems like Bridges and company are playing with fire by deviating from the classic novel, but what do you make of the changes?
The Giver opens August 15, 2014.