My colleagues Kathryn Lopez and John Miller have written in these parts of late to say good things about The Giver, Lois Lowry’s popular dystopian novel that hits American silver screens tomorrow, and I’d like to add my two cents. I’ll state my bias: The movie is produced by Walden Media, founded by Micheal Flaherty, my former NR colleague, a dear friend who is ably assisted by his better-looking brother Chip. Even though watching from the cheering section, I think, after seeing an advance screening, what I had hoped I would: that The Giver is an important and excellent movie. It scores well in every aspect: There is a consistent stylishness, it’s well-edited and visually beautiful from start to finish, the acting is solid, the script is tight, the movie . . . moves (there are no lulls), and the story — the message — is compelling, a lesson taught artfully, without crayons, without ham-hands, without the two-by-four head-bashing you get in your typical Hollywood-produced sermon. It’s worth taking the family to the Multiplex.
The Giver is the kind of movie that conservatives — those who are yearning for a greater role and voice in the entertainment industry, so that our beliefs can have a greater impact and validation in the culture — should be cheering. It strikes a balance between subtlety and overtness, and serves up serious themes palatably via well-done art. In particular, it addresses two themes common to dystopian novels — the uniqueness and beauty and sacredness of the individual, and its evil sibling, the aggrandized, controlling, pill-popping dehumanizing state. Even though millions have read the novel, I won’t give the plot away, but I have to mention that The Giver deals profoundly with children, so the life issues, particularly infanticide, are immediately confronted. But — in a way that is neither preachy nor polemical, and therefore, impactful and persuasive. The Giver is not a pro-life movie. But it is a movie that is pro-life. And that is a good thing, given the realities of American culture (popular and moral), and the dearth of “our” slice of the Hollywood pie.
Kudos to the Brothers Flaherty for making a film that is important and entertaining, about which anyone can say, “now that was a good movie,” a movie that is equal in its medium to Lowry’s award-winning and powerful book.