My son Eric, now a newly minted college graduate working his first professional job, was a toddler in 1993 when a fantastic book entitled The Giver garnered the Newbery Medal for author Lois Lowry. A decade later, when Eric — a voracious reader — discovered the book for himself, it held him enthralled. I remember picking the book up for myself and being equally captivated.
So when I heard that the creative team at Walden Media was partnering with The Weinstein Company to bring this classic story to life, I couldn’t wait to see the movie. As my endorsement for the film shows, it was all I had hoped it would be:
“The Giver is a stunning film which underscores that every human life has beauty and value. Fast paced yet thoughtfully provocative, this is a story which reminds us that in our diversity and humanity and even in our frailty and brokenness, we are the colors of the beautiful masterpiece of life. When we forget to care for the most fragile among us, we lose the essence of our humanity. See The Giver and then look for your own chance to give to the world around you.”
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Micheal Flaherty, President of Walden Media, about his hopes for this film. Our broad-ranging conversation heightened my anticipation for this project. In my mind, this is more than just a popcorn movie. While aimed at more mature children due to some of the sensitive themes covered, The Giver has the power to embolden our youth in an age when their contributions to our society are so greatly needed.
After sharing with me about some of the educational partnerships and learning resources that have already been developed in partnership with classroom teachers, Flaherty — himself a dad — told me that he sincerely hopes families will not only see the film together, but take a step beyond to truly have a deep conversation about the “big ideas” in this film.
Micheal shared, “As my kids get older, it’s really hard to explain to them this idea of being in the world, but not of the world.” He believes that the themes in this movie, such as its emphasis on personal courage even in the face of vast societal pressure, can bolster the values of a generation who is sent out into a world that often contradicts the values they are taught at home.
Honestly, I would concur with Micheal that the true value of The Giver is not simply a few hours of entertainment. Don’t get me wrong — you’ll be entertained by this fast-paced, superbly acted movie.
But I hope you will — as I did — see this simply as a starting point to have conversations with your family that will embolden your children to stand for what is right and true and just.
I believe that each of us, including our children, have the potential created within us to be “Giver” to the world around us. And I thank Lois Lowry, Walden Media and The Weinstein Company for creating a vehicle that will remind us of what is lost when we forget the dignity and value of every human life.