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August 12, 2014

David French on "The Giver"

It's not often that a popular novel with a subversively anti-leftism theme gets the big-budget treatment from Hollywood and lands Meryl Streep as The Big Bad, but The Giver has long been one of the more beloved works of fiction.

David French writes about the book movie at NRO.

Before I talk about the movie, however, let me say this: I absolutely hate it when people tell me that I need to see a movie because of its message. I want to see good movies, not message movies, and sometimes find poorly delivered conservative messages more irritating even than preachy liberal screeds. Because I want conservative ideas to be persuasive, it's like fingernails on a chalkboard when movies fail as movies, yet I'm still expected to see the film out of some strange sense of tribal loyalty.

But the good news is...

So, let me get this out of the way before I talk about some of the themes in The Giver. The movie is very good (and I'm not the only one saying so). With Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, and -- yes -- Taylor Swift, the acting and star power is exactly what you'd expect from a well-crafted summer movie. The book's "utopian" world is brought to life, and the movie brings together the right mix of action, suspense, and thought.

But it's the thought I want to discuss.

Unlike in the more recent dystopian films, great calamity has led not to a Panem-like violence and oppression but instead to an artificially created utopia, where the state has systematically imposed equality, narrowed the range of individual choice to meaninglessness, and places each person in their designated place. This is a utopia organized not around the seeking of pleasure but instead the avoidance of pain. As Meryl Streep's character explains, "When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong."

Apparently -- I got this from a positive WaPo review -- actor Jeff Bridges has been trying to get this movie made for more than ten years (the Newbury-award-winning novel was published in 1993).

He's been trying to get it made for so long that he originally had his late father in mind for the role he now plays.

Trailers: Whoops, I forgot, there are trailers and everything.

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posted by Ace at 01:58 PM

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