Now that Harry Potter and Twilight have wrapped up their film franchises, and with the success of The Hunger Games, Hollywood is forever searching for the next big young adult book series to bring to the big screen. Would-be franchise starters such as Divergent and The Vampire Academy are on the horizon, but author Lois Lowry’s acclaimed book The Giver is also in the works, and now we’ve got our first look at it.
Jeff Bridges has been the biggest cheerleader about turning The Giver into a feature film since 1993. He originally wanted his father, Lloyd Bridges, to play the titular character, but he unfortunately passed, leaving Jeff to age into the role. The Giver takes place in a world where people believe they live in a Utopian society, but where all emotions, history, and color have been stricken from existence. When young boys and girls come of age, they are assigned jobs and duties for the rest of their lives (sounds like Divergent).
Luckily, Bob & Harvey Weinstein believed in Bridges and the film adaptation, and now it will be released at the end of this summer. “The movie will not be an exact duplication of the book. It’s taking a lot of licenses,” Bridges told Entertainment Weekly. “I originally kind of balked at the idea of making the lead character older,” admits Bridges. It’s believed that the main character’s age was changed from 12 to 16, so it would allow the filmmakers to heighten the stakes of the movie. The move is seen as controversial among fans of the young adult novel.
The film adaptation centers on Jonas, played by Australian newcomer Brenton Thwaites, a boy who is assigned to be the new Receiver of Memory — the world’s keeper of history. But when Jonas meets the former Receiver of Memory, also known as The Giver, his world is turned upside down as he learns that life can be much more vibrant and rich. However, Jonas must keep his newfound knowledge a secret, so society can remain “Utopian” for all of its citizens. Australian film director Phillip Noyce told EW:
‘The past is considered to be potentially polluting,’ says the 63-year-old director. ‘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.
The last thing we heard from The Giver was the casting of Katie Holmes as Jonas’ mother, a brainwashed citizen who believes that all rules should be followed, regardless of their nature, and country music recording artist Taylor Swift as a girl named Rosemary, the last teenager mentored by The Giver before Jonas.
The Newbery Award-winning novel is one of the most significant books of the ’90s, and a staple of middle-school education. There have been many attempts to bring it to theaters in the past, notably when Bill Cosby bought the film rights in the hopes of adapting the film.
The Giver also features Alexander Skarsgard as Jonas’ father and Cameron Monaghan as Jonas’s best friend, Asher. The Chief Elder will be played by Meryl Streep, Bridges revealed that the Academy Award-winning actress was his first choice for the role, and will take on a more significant role than in the book. The novel from author Lois Lowry is described as being in the vein of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
The Giver will hit theaters everywhere on August 15, 2014.