I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth Eckhart back to A Bookish Affair. Today, she is talking about one of my childhood favorites, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry, which is getting ready to be turned into a movie.
The journey from the page to the big screen is always a challenging one for all parties involved. Authors, if they actually want their book turned into a film, are often terrified their masterpieces will be entirely butchered by people who aren’t able to see or understand their vision for the work. Filmmakers, on the other hand, have their own fears; for instance, the book might not translate well into a screenplay, and thus, not result in a great movie. However, most of these pre-production issues are resolved fairly quickly with creative efforts from both parties.
However, this was not true for The Giver, Lois Lowry’s 1993 YA novel about a dystopian society where no one feels pain, suffering, or despair as an exchange for blind devotion to the government. The journey for her beloved book, from first being selected for film to the theaters, took over 20 years, quite a long time even for Hollywood’s standards.
Of course, film adaptations of YA books are commonplace these days - The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, Divergent, and more are all extremely successful adaptations (if you’re interested in watching them, they’re all available through most online streaming services; check your cable provider’s website). Despite the years of success for these YA films, Lowry’s book rights have been bouncing from one production company to another since Bill Cosby first purchased them in 1994. The author herself thought it would never happen, telling Entertainment Weekly back in 2012, “The film rights have been out there for 15 years now, and every now and then, some big studio gets involved, and some major player gets involved. And then time passes, and it all collapses again.”
However, this time it was different, since Jeff Bridges became fully committed to the film (for which he had bought the rights to back in the 90’s). He cast himself as the titular character while bringing in other stars like Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and, surprisingly, Taylor Swift to play the mysterious Rosemary. The role of Jonas, the protagonist, will be played by Australian actor Brenton Thwaites. Despite having found fame on various television series back home, he’s a relatively unknown actor stateside.
While not much is known about the film at this point, a trailer was released recently in March, which gives us some clues as to what the final product will look like. One thing that’s obvious right off the bat is that the filmmakers have chosen to make the characters much older than they’re described in the book; while Jonas is only 12 in the book, Brenton Thwaites is twice that at 24 - a casting decision that has (predictably) already drawn some ire from the book’s fans. I also caught a glimpse of some spaceships in the trailer that I don’t recall reading about...but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what that’s all about!
The film isn’t set to hit theaters until August 15th, which will give all of us plenty of time to re-read the book this summer before we watch the story told in theaters. There’s no word on whether the rest of the books in Lowry’s The Quartet series will be turned into films at this point. I would expect to hear news on that following the box office reports from The Giver, which means if you want to see them all transformed for the big screen, you should definitely show your support for the first!
About the author:
Elizabeth Eckhart is an entertainment and film blogger for Directstartv.com, who finds nothing more compelling than a good story, no matter its medium.