Search for Truth, Find Freedom: First Poster for The Giver
See Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, and young stars Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush (those really sound like fictional names, don't they?) in the first official poster for the upcoming adaptation of Lois Lowry's beloved dystopia for children, The Giver.
The poster is in both color and black and white, reflecting the plot and themes of the novel (as well as placating fans who were furious at the all-color first trailer). Fittingly, the two younger characters, who yearn to break out of the colorless, passionless "utopia," are in color, while the two older characters, who serve to perpetuate the status quo, are in grayscale. Brenton Thwaites plays the young protagonist, Jonas, who is selected as the Receiver of Memory and discovers that the forefathers of his society sacrificed humanity for the sake of peace and security. Odeya Rush plays his love interest, Fiona, while Meryl Streep plays the Chief Elder, the primary antagonist. Jeff Bridges plays the Giver, who passes on the torch to Jonas by giving him memories of the pleasures and pain of a world without "sameness." The poster also credits Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes, who play Jonas's parents, and Taylor Swift, who appears as Jonas's predecessor.
Lois Lowry recently wrote a new foreword for the novel's latest edition, in which she discussed the state of science fiction in today's popular culture. She mentioned that her novel was somewhat groundbreaking at the time of its first publishing, while today the premise would inspire a "yawn," especially considering the spate of more action-packed dystopian young adult series like The Hunger Games and Divergent. As a result of this trend, and The Giver's quiet, introspective plot, the film proved difficult to produce.
She credits the unwavering dedication of the book's fans with the continuing success of the novel and the realization of the film. In this excerpt from the new foreword, she describes the truly remarkable impact the novel has had on children and adults alike:
"The volume — the sheer numbers of [fan letters about The Giver]... even now, twenty years later, they still come, sometimes fifty to sixty in a day. But now the letter writers were different. Sure, many of them were still kids. But a startling number were much older. And the content was no longer the school assignment letter, the obligatory 'I thought this was a pretty good book.' Instead the letters were passionate ('This book has changed my life'), occasionally angry ('Jesus would be ashamed of you,' one woman wrote), and sometimes startlingly personal.
"One couple wrote to me about their autistic, selectively mute teenager, who had recently spoken to them for the first time — about The Giver, urging them to read it. A teacher from South Carolina wrote that the most disruptive, difficult student in her eighth grade class had called her at home on a no-school day and begged her to read him the next chapter over the phone. A night watchman in an oil refinery wrote that he had happened on the book — it was lying on someone's desk — while making his rounds ('I'm not a reader,' he wrote me, 'but man, I'm glad I came to work tonight'). A Trappist monk wrote to me and said he considered the book a sacred text. A man who had, as an adult, fled the cult in which he had been raised, told me that his psychiatrist had recommended The Giver to him. Countless new parents have written to explain why their babies have been named Gabriel. A teacher in rural China sent me a photograph of beaming students holding up their copies of the book. The FBI took an interest in the two-hundred-page vaguely threatening letter sent by a man who insisted that he was actually The Giver, and advised me not to go near the city where he lived. A teenage girl wrote that she had been considering suicide until she read The Giver. One young man wrote a proposal of marriage to his girlfriend inside the book and gave it to her (she said yes). But a woman told me in a letter that I was clearly a disturbed person and she hoped I would get some help."
It is arguably unsurprising that a man who fled a cult was touched by the novel's themes, as the book challenges readers to challenge the norms of the culture in which they were raised. Even if it's more difficult to film, we're glad that this adaptation is coming to fruition, if only because it sets a better example for children than Twilight.
The film will be released on August 15.