“The Giver,” the new movie by Walden Films, is a powerful cautionary tale that everyone should make the time to see. Released a few weeks ago, it has received praise and acclaim from critics and the public alike. Some are even calling it the “most pro-life film ever made.”
The story is set within a utopian society called the “community,” where peace and order reign supreme and even the memory of violence and war have been eliminated. It focuses on the courageous acts of a young man named Jonas, who has been selected by the elders as the next “Receiver of Memory.”
Jonas is singled out to be the sole person in the society who preserves the memories of the past. The leaders of the “community” decided that it was better for everyone if they did not remember the many horrors of past generations. As a result, the ideas of murder, war, and even love have been erased. Only one person holds onto those memories and aids the “community” in time of need.
This loss of memory has profound consequences. Even though murder has been “eliminated,” it still exists, albeit under a different name. They call it “release,” and it is primarily used on those who are considered burdens to society: the elderly and newborn.
By receiving the memories of war and violence, Jonas recognizes the grim reality of “release” and notices that people are being killed every day. This realization prompts him to save a child scheduled to be “released,” and it is one of the most moving moments in the entire film.
“The Giver” showcases the importance of memories, and challenges us to look to the past for instructions on how to live in the present. All too often we become focused exclusively on the present, and forget what generations before us have accomplished. We are prone to rush into situations with “guns blazing” (both literally and figuratively), without having consulted the wisdom of previous generations. If we would only look to the lessons of history, we could resolve many issues more efficiently and not make the same mistakes.
In an age where killing the elderly and unborn has become common practice and is simply “called by a different name,” this is a timely lesson. If we would look to the past, we could see that these atrocities have happened before. In the end, “The Giver” tells us to sometimes look backward in order to move forward.
Philip Kosloski is a writer and digital artist living in central Wisconsin.