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Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture

At the movies: “The Giver” is great!

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

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In theaters Friday (8/15)

Synopsis: The Giver (Jeff Bridges) is designated by a future society that confuses conformity with peace to be sole bearer of the violent truth of human history.  Now, the time has come for him to pass his knowledge on to Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a teenager who has been chosen by the authoritarian government to be the next generation’s truth keeper.

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Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift, Cameron Monaghan
Directed by: Philip Noyce
Produced by: Nikki Silver
Executive Producer: Ralph Winter
Written by: Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide based on the 1993 Newbery Medal-winning book by Lois Lowry

Review: A sort of Hunger Games with a subversive anti-authoritarian and dare-I-say pro-life theme, The Giver — an unlikely joint effort from The Weinstein Comany and Walden Media — strikes a tone reminiscent of Rod Serling’s classic Twilight Zone TV as it spins its gripping tale of a dystopian future in which differences in appearance and thought have been eliminated in favor of a supposed harmonious society that is fair to all.

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The society Jonas lives in is literally color blind — as citizens are given drug treatments that literally cause them to see the world in black and white. On top of that, all issues that have divided humanity for millennia (including faith) have been all but erased. In the ethos of this society, ignorance really is seen as bliss as any sort of difference of thought is viewed as dangerous and divisive. Global warming, in other words, isn’t the only debate that has been shut down by a society unable to deal with even minor dissent.

As Jonas and his friends graduate from school, each are assigned their roles Soviet-like by the chilling Chief Elder (Meryl Streep). While Jonas gets the lonely — and, ultimately, dangerous — job of learning and bearing the truth of human history, his pal Asher (Cameron Monaghan), is assigned the task of remotely piloting the drones that fly around overhead watching the populace and politely informing them when they’re in violation of a rule. His female friend Fiona (Odeya Rush) is assigned to take care of newborn babies in the Nurturing Center. It’s there that infants are kept in womb-like pods before being passed off to host families.

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The plot takes its aforementioned pro-life turn when Jones learns that a physically imperfect baby in Fiona’s care is due to be “released” from the burden of existence. It’s then that he defies ruling order and sets out to save the child’s life. The ensuing chase has Jonas running from a killer drone piloted by his friend Asher.

The action sequences are thrilling and the story itself is filled with heart and depth. As for Bridges and Streep, they are, of course, great — especially when they are on screen together — but the young actors shine as well. This is a really good movie that adults and teens can actually enjoy together. The Giver is highly recommended.   

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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