These days, it seems like Hollywood has finally discovered that dystopian young adult fiction is a trend that can make bunches at the box office, thanks to The Hunger Games. We can also look forward to The Host and the long awaited advent of a big budget Ender’s Game adaptation. But older young adults in their twenties and thirties can sit around saying “In my day, we walked fifteen miles to the library to pick up copies of Garth Nix‘s Shade’s Children and Lois Lowry‘s The Giver. And then we wrote our book reports with pencil and paper! And then gave it to our parents to spellcheck!”
But I actually had The Giver read to me at bedtime before I was ever assigned it in school, so I guess I have the most hipster dystopian YA cred of all.
For the uninitiated, The Giver is the story of the twelve-year-old Jonas, set in a society where all the citizens are stripped of the ability to feel strong emotions. Marriages are mathematically arranged, children are born to artificially inseminated mothers whose jobs, chosen at the age of twelve, are to have babies that will then be adopted out to families. Jonas’ job is to become the next Giver, a mysterious patriarchal figure who literally holds the collective memories of their culture, the ones too violent or emotional for the average citizen to deal with an maintain their assigned place in society.
Just a few months ago, Lowry was despairing that she’d ever see a movie get made and refusing to let herself get excited by the possibility of a Bridges production getting off the ground in case things fell through. This week, though, she told NPR’s Studio 360 that things were going ahead:
I’ve just heard within the past couple of days that The Giver, which they’ve been trying to make into a movie for 15 years, is finally on the road,” she told [Kurt] Andersen. “Things have racheted up, and they have producers and money and a director and a star. They hope to start shooting it in the spring.” Jeff Bridges will play the Giver, the powerful elder who holds all of his community’s memories. “As we speak,” Lowry said, “they’re interviewing young boy actors for the role of Jonas,” the 12-year-old who is chosen as the Receiver of those memories, and learns the appalling secrets behind his community’s orderly, peaceful way of life.
The Giver has been enshrined in the hearts of many children, and in the syllabuses of educators trying to keep kids reading as they get older. However, bringing the book to screen, despite adaptations for stage and opera, has been a long and rocky road, although it’s frequently shared this road with Jeff Bridges. According to Studio 360, Bridges has been interested in the role of the Giver for his father since the book came out. Lloyd Bridges died in 1998, but we daresay that, nearly fifteen years later, Jeff has reached an age in which he could do the role justice.
(via NYPL on Tumblr.)