Like many of her book’s fans, “The Giver” author Lois Lowry was nervous at first about some of the changes director Phillip Noyce and the filmmakers behind the adaptation had made to her classic YA dystopian novel.
Lowry and Noyce sat down with TheWrap to talk about their movie, how it fits into the current landscape of trendy YA dystopian novels and why the lead character Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, had been aged up from 12 in the books to 18 in the movie.
“The decision was made in order to maybe extend the audience’s connection to the character’s experience,” said Noyce. “Because we know 16, 17 or 18 is – in our society – the normal time of rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.”
Lowry, like many die-hard fans of the book, was more skeptical of the change. “I was nervous about it at first,” she says. “Because I’d been attached to this 12 year old little boy for so long. After the kids were cast to play the roles, and I first met Brenton in person and then saw him on the screen, I knew right away the change was going to be okay.”
Jeff Bridges, who plays the Giver in the film, has been trying to make the movie for nearly 20 years. And Lowry thinks it was meant to be.
“Jeff would have been too young to play the leading role. Philip wouldn’t have been around. Odeya wasn’t born,” said Lowry of a film that came together earlier. “Time moved forward and things fell into their right places at the right time.”
“The Giver,” released in 1993, was considered the first dystopian novel for young adults, and Lowry seemed rather confounded that the genre has become a phenomenon in the years since.
Noyce has his opinion on what’s behind the trend. “Fear,” he answered decisively. “Increasing fear of the future and our place in it. Young people are leading that fear, they’re the ones entering the adult world and wondering what the future will bring. And increasingly, technology is making that fear much more complex. The choices we make are much harder to make. And I think deep down we fear our friend technology is actually robbing us of something.”
“The Giver” will be released on Friday, August 15.