It was quite clear after watching the trailers that The Giver would be significantly different from its book counterpart. Right away we can see that Jonas is older—in the books he’s twelve, but here he’s eighteen—and he and Fiona also share a kiss or two, when in the books, nothing romantic ever happens between them. While this movie was certainly a visual experience—its use of both color and black-and-white images was beautifully done—its narrative sadly conformed to the “sameness” that it actively attempts to tell us is bad. The Giver offers little to nothing new in its narrative and instead adheres to the same annoying standards and minority erasure as every other movie out there. This is only made more disappointing because the movie’s intended message is the exact opposite of the one it sends.
You’ve all seen Shrek, right? Stars an ogre and a talking donkey on their quest to parody some fairy tale tropes? The princess of those movies, Princess Fiona, is cursed to be a human by day and an ogre by night, and only love’s true kiss will make her take “love’s true form”. At the end, she takes the form of the ogre rather than the more stereotypically beautiful human, and it’s because of this that Fiona is thought of as a positive, feminist example of the modern-day princess. But in fact, Fiona is not as subversive or as effective a character as you might think.
Spoilers for all the Shrek movies below.