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Run Time: 97 minutes
Director: Phillip Noyce
This film does little to challenge dominant media narratives regarding cultural identities. However, the film does address important topics that include knowledge production, questioning authority, and the significance of difference.
Summary: In a dystopian community devoid of individuality, feelings, and choice, Jonas is given the opportunity to learn about different people, places, and experiences.
Language: 0 poos
- Deaths of minor characters; deaths of animals
- Visible guns, gun violence
- War scene
- Minimal Gore
- Euphemisms are used for murder and death.
- Visible needle (lethal injection)
- At one point, Jonas kisses Fiona without her consent. Although Fiona does not appear to mind, consent should always be given.
Drugs and Alcohol: 0 Poos
- Fiona challenges traditional gender roles regarding femininity when she is active. For example, Fiona breaks the community rules by sledding down the stairs. Also, she helps Jonas escape the hospital with baby Gabriel.
- Jonas challenges traditional gender roles regarding masculinity as he regularly expresses emotions (cries) and acts as the caretaker for baby Gabriel.
- There are a few minor characters of color in crowd scenes.
Sexual Orientation: N/A
- The Giver, who is old-bodied (silver hair, wrinkles), is depicted as having power and respect within the community. For example, the Elders regularly consult the Giver on various community matters and permit the Giver to have privacy. This is significant because old bodies are usually depicted as inactive/insignificant bodies in popular media. Further, the Giver is depicted as a “good” character because he understands that the “sameness” of the community and the type of knowledge that the community perpetuates eliminates free choice, difference, and the overall complexity of human experiences.
- Many characters conform to traditional gender stereotypes. For example, the Elders decide to place Fiona in the nurturing center as she is a “natural” at caring for children (a stereotypically feminine trait) while Ash is chosen by the Elders to be a pilot (a traditionally male occupation).
- The male gaze is briefly present in the film when Jonas stares at Fiona through the window.
- The community is “colorblind” through the majority of the film as the Elders have decided to erase the concept of race.
- The majority of the characters appear to be white.
- The majority of the characters appear to be heterosexual.
- None of the characters appear to have a visible disability.
- The majority of characters conform to body ideals.
Suggested talking points:
- Throughout most of the film, the community members live in a world where differences are not allowed (emotions, religion, race, color, etc.) and believe that the world is better without differences. What do you think Jonas means when he says that differences make the world “more complete”?
- In the hopes of constructing a utopian community, the authorities of the community created a dystopian society where choice and rebellion are not tolerated. Therefore, some themes in the film include how knowledge is produced and the importance of questioning authority.
- As the film suggests by the end, it is important to note that families can take many forms. For example, although the community perpetuated the traditional family unit, Jonas shows that families do not have to consist of one mom and one dad but can include one parent/guardian, two dads, grandparents, siblings, etc.
Keywords: the giver, family, 2 paws, two paws, authority, knowledge