35. The Giver: Hollywood Indicts the Culture of Death

THE GIVER

My wife and I recently watched The Giver. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard anything about this movie last summer when it was in theaters. Its indictment of the culture of death was so blatant that it actually made me squirm a bit for those who seek to justify the killing of innocent life and all the deceptions behind such killings.

The Giver is a story about a future utopia called “The Community” where pain, war, and disease have been eradicated, as have individuality and free will. That’s the trade-off: if we want a pain-free, war-free world, freedom, individuality, and human longing must be erased – a feat accomplished by a mandatory dose of daily medication.

“Sameness” is the key to harmony in The Community. No one knows his or her real father and mother. Everything in day-to-day life – from family relationships to jobs – is assigned and arranged by “the elders.” And “precision of language,” while strictly enforced, amounts to exactly the opposite. When Jonah’s (assigned) father calls a stuffed elephant a hippo, we begin to realize that things are not called by their proper names.

[tweetthis]The Giver is a movie that’s not only worth watching. It’s worth studying very closely. – @cwestTOB[/tweetthis]

Haunted by a dream he had as a child that awakened “the stirrings,” Jonah finds a covert way of skipping his person-numbing injection, and his “stirrings” begin to return. When he steals away to follow those stirrings and kisses Fiona, he pleads with her to believe him: “Fiona, there’s more, so much more!”

Later, when Jonah’s baby brother is returned to “the nurturing center” and “released to elsewhere” because he didn’t pass his “test of maturity,” Jonah realizes with true precision of language that this means his brother had been killed. “I hadn’t been wrong,” Jonah tells us in a voice over. “This was wrong. They hadn’t eliminated murder. They’d brought it home. They just called it by a different name.” Then, placing the stuffed elephant (which he had learned is not a hippo) with his sister in bed, Jonah says, “Father, he didn’t know any better. I did.” And, at much risk to himself, he sets out on a journey to liberate The Community from the deception engulfing them.

With A-list stars like Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, I found myself wondering how such a powerful indictment of today’s culture had slipped through the politically correct filters of Hollywood. It even ends with a clear nod to Christmas as the source of hope for humanity’s future.

This is a movie that’s not only worth watching. It’s worth studying very closely.

Question: If you have seen the movie, what struck you most? If you haven’t, what movies do you recommend that offer a critique of the culture of death? Continue the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

(Photo from The Weinstein Company)