Author Lois Lowry Discusses Her Input on the The Giver
Posted on August 15, 2014
The film adaptation of Lois Lowry's YA dystopian novel The Giver opens today in theaters nationwide. The novel was adapted by screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weiden.The film is directed by Phillip Noyce, who directed Dead Calm, Patriot Games, Clear And Present Danger, The Bone Collector and Rabbit-Proof Fence. The Giver won the Newberry Medal when it was published 21 years ago and was the forerunner of such books as Divergent and The Hunger Games. Jeff Bridges bought the film rights for his father Lloyd Bridges to play the Giver, but it took so long to get the film made he is now playing the role.
Deadline interviewed Noyce and Lowry to talk about the collaboration between the director and the author. Lowry said that from a legal standpoint, she had no control or input into the script or the movie. But Noyce gave her the full J.K. Rowling treatment and involved her in everything: from cutting dialogue she didn't like to discussing how to update the look of the futuristic city where society has given up all emotion to stop wars, strife and racism.
Noyce has had at least one bad experience: he and Tom Clancy didn't get along at all and disagreed on almost every decision in the Jack Ryan movies which starred Harrison Ford. But this time things were different: Noyce and Lowry got along just swimmingly. Lowry says that sometimes they did not take her suggestions, but it was for the best in the end.
For example, in the book the protagonist is much younger. For the film they aged the protagonist Jonas up to 18 years old, and he's played by a 24 year old actor. Lois was worried they would turn her book into a teen romance, but that didn't happen. The book was written more than 20 years ago, so the technology had to be updated. Lowry's books use television screens to imply modernity, those have been changed to holograms.
The role of the Chief Elder, played by Meryl Streep, was greatly expanded for the film. She enforces the rigid sameness of the society and does a great job of explaining why totalitarianism is actually a good thing. Her main antagonist in the film is the Giver, the only man who can see colors, feel emotions and remember all the memories of mankind. Their
So far, audiences have liked the film and critics are not as enthusiastic. But the author is happy. When asked what she felt after she saw the finished film, she said that the characters felt true to her, the performances were fantastic, but it was the amazing visuals that blew her away.