One of the probable highlights of summer sci-fi at the movies this year is going to be “The Giver,” an adaptation of the novel written over 20 years ago by Lois Lowry. While the film adapt will be releasing during the pitiful Dog Days of Summer in August, the message behind it all seems too high quality to be released in such a clunker month. Especially with everyone from Meryl Streep to Jeff Bridges in the cast, you have to hope Harvey Weinstein has more faith in it than most studios do releasing a film that time of the year.
The plot of “The Giver” may have been an overly familiar one when you consider it’s about someone who passes on the knowledge of forgotten memories to one individual in the younger generation. It’s a concept that already gives connotations of such classic books as “Fahrenheit 451” where secret sanctuaries existed to memorize all of the books that were burned by the dystopian government. What made “The Giver” more important, though, was that it showed previous knowledge being taken away from a younger generation in an effort to control society.
It’s a message Generation Y needed today while so much past knowledge has already been forgotten due to past generations dying off and certain historical tomes not getting top priority on reading lists. If we’re not anywhere near the future of “The Giver”, there’s enough out there where older adults keep lamenting us losing some parts of our past identity as we move further into the future.
H.G. Wells already saw it coming well over 100 years ago in his “The Time Machine” and the creation of the Eloi. When you read the book today or see the classic 1960 movie, it’s not hard to imagine an identical culture in 100 years while being controlled by an underground group for use as slaves or food. For the Eloi, ignorance bred bliss and subsequently no conflict or wars, which is the same point “The Giver” made. We also plainly realize how vacuous that life is.
What makes this situation interesting in the real world is what happens when ignorance tries to be instigated when knowledge has already had a chance to be assimilated. We’re seeing that now in Russia where democracy has allowed knowledge of things the population there wouldn’t have been privy to prior to the 1990s. With President Putin starting to enact caps on certain things a whole generation has already absorbed, it’s going to be impossible to enact what the government was able to control in the Communist era.
With America’s Generation Y being a generation with a much different attitude about things than Generation X had, what will be their reaction to “The Giver” this summer? It’s more than obvious the book and current film are sending a warning out to the generation that just now become adults.
Can Sci-Fi Still Make an Impression on a Generation?
Sci-fi films of the past have frequently made lasting impressions on the generation who saw them first on the big screen. Those who grew up in the 1950s were highly influenced by films like “Forbidden Planet” and the sociological sci-fi of “The Twilight Zone” on TV. The 1960s and ’70s generation grew up with “2001: A Space Odyssey” and all the devastating apocalyptic movies that followed until the “Star Wars” crowd took over.
Despite “Star Wars” bringing a more sunny spin on sci-fi for a generation, it’s gone full circle and apocalyptic visions of Earth are back again for Generation Y. “The Hunger Games” and countless other sci-fi movies show things as bleak as they can get, if knowledge not always getting attention. Despite the dystopian nature of “Hunger Games”, the population is still smart and cognizant of strategy to survive.
It’s one reason why “The Giver” might make more of an impression on Gen Y based squarely on the idea that everything known now could easily disappear in the children of Generation Y if those in power let it happen. Despite democracy continually being abused, you have to think “The Giver” will be a stand-alone sci-fi film that gives young adults new drive in absorbing as much knowledge as possible.
There might be some out there who think it’s a little too literary to make as much of an impact as “Hunger Games” has. Nevertheless, having it in August might be the best thing to have it stand out from the tripe likely released in the same month. Whether it truly makes a difference or not will only be determined on how much Generation Y takes it to heart. Ironically, any future society taking away knowledge would have this movie physically destroyed as part of any media inciting a rebellion.