I recently just watched The Giver, a social science fiction film based on the award-winning book. The film takes place in a utopian society that is organized into sets of communities based on each individual’s assigned career upon their graduation. Their world is colorless, emotionless, and detached from intimacy because the people are incapable of having memories. The people of the community live their lives without experiencing personal freedom and don’t question the system of conformity in which they live under. Their reality is an attempt from the government to live in a perfect world; one without suffering, pain or violence. Jonas, a curious 16-year old boy is assigned by the Chief Elder to become the next Receiver of Memor. Under this role, he goes through a series of training from his mentor, “The Giver”, and progressively receive the memories of the world over time.
This process if very overwhelming and scary to Jonas as the truths of the past world are revealed to him. These memories reveal a world of color, emotion, pain, joy, rebellion, betrayal, excitement and most importantly, love. As he begins to discover the truths of the past world, he begins to question and eventually hate the sheltered society that surrounds him. He can no longer stand to live in a world where this reality of life is shielded by the government. With this acquired power of knowledge, Jonas takes it upon himself to go beyond the community borders to release the memories of the past back into society.
I enjoyed this film because it made me realize and appreciate the privilege of freedom we have to make choices about out futures and how we want to live our lives. The citizen’s lives were completely controlled by the government and they had no sense of individuality or self-identity. The families in this community are completely unaware that they have even lost this concept of freedom, and their ignorance is what I find most shocking. For example, Jonas finds out that the government kills people by lethal injection, and nobody in the city thinks this is wrong. This film reaffirmed my belief that knowledge is power and if we rely on the people in power to completely take over our lives, we lose real perspective and our own personal freedoms. If we attempt to make a “perfect” society by categorizing people and eliminating emotion, we are unable to flourish as unique individuals.
This article gave a good breakdown of the film that I enjoyed reading.
An interesting theme of the film is the importance of memories and how collective knowledge as a generation generates power and unity. If we simply ignored or chose to not recall events or tragedies of our past, we would never learn how to grow as a society. For example, the tragedy of 9/11 was the worst terrorist attack on American Soil and brought so much pain, violence, agony, and suffering to our country. If we chose not to remember or acknowledge the events that took place to “protect” ourselves from the painful emotions, we are doing an injustice to those people who lost their lives and denying ourselves the knowledge of this growing danger to our people. The Giver is an example of what could happen to a society if they do not share the memories of the past and how detrimental that is to the souls of human beings. To grow and develop as a community, we must learn from our past.