The Giver

08 Sep

The Giver — directed by Phillip Noyce. Sci-fi. 97 minutes Color 2014


The Story: A young man entrusted with the memory of the race decides to flout convention and save all humanity.


Everything depends upon the casting of the young man, and in this case he is perfect – Brenton Thwaites, a teenager by the look of him, with a big open expression and beautiful eyes like Dana Andrews’. So we can well believe in his ability to absorb the information he is called upon to receive and go on to care about his survival with it.

This information is imparted by a senior member of the community, and is played by Jeff Bridges. It is the part of a man who knows everything, and the peril in such parts is that one can sound mantic. Or make noises like a stone dog. That is to say, be Alec Guinness. Bridges skirts this canyon and tousles the young man as he transmits the info, so we see he is rather more warm-minded than the rest of the community, from which all feeling has been drained by daily injections and by a sternly regulated diction. Katie Holmes plays the young man’s mother, and she is a vision that would have won Charles Addams’ heart. His father is the local executioner, which would have won his other heart.

For what we have here is a dystopia. A dystopia is a utopia, a utopia is always a dystopia, all utopias being dystopias because all utopias, having been formed for the most noble and humane purposes, insist on certain humorless excisions, and so all go to the bad.

The monitor of this nation is Meryl Streep, who plays her role of the bad lady with a technical purity that is a source of wonder and surprise with every breath she draws and every word she utters. She regulates a nation from which all color and all love have been banished.

In the story, the young man wakens to the deprivations this nation lives under as he learns of them through the transmissions of The Giver, Bridges, a physical encyclopedia of all past human and natural history. And somehow the young man must escape and save humanity from the wreckage of the future.

I enjoyed the adventure and all the sci-fi effects. Indeed, the effects are the chief value of sci-fi. They guarantee and deliver magic. The Giver story is told in a series of beautiful montages that sweep us forward and keep us abreast of The Lost Horizon we are learning about and from. Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a sci-fi play. Meryl Streep transports herself with no more difficulty than Ariel. For special effects have an honored and ancient place in commanding our sense of wonder, fortunate deliverance, and heavenly visitation every time. If you don’t think those are real in real life, your sense of reality may be stunted. Effects are the wand to remind us of the power and influence of the impalpable.

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Posted in Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep: ACTING GODDESS, Sci-Fi, SURVIVAL DRAMA

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