Australian Council on Children and the Media

Giver, The

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Not recommended under 15(Violence; Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Giver, The
  • a review of Giver, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 September 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Giver, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and violence
Length 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Giver is a science fiction fantasy film based on young adult fiction and set in the year 2048. After a large-scale war has occurred, the scarred community has decided to remove all emotions, colours and the concept of love in an effort to protect itself from future harm. Every citizen has had their previous memories wiped. Eighteen-year-old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is the only person who has access to this expansive collection of memories because the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) has named him the “Receiver of Memory”.  Jonas obtains these memories from the previous Receiver, who has become “The Giver” (Jeff Bridges), and uses them to advise the Elders who make decisions for the community.

After Jonas’ father brings home a young baby named Gabe, Jonas begins to share the memories he receives with the child, who also has the mark of a potential Receiver of Memory on his wrist. In time, Jonas and the Giver decide that the only way to restore the community to what it once was is to give people back their memories. Jonas kidnaps Gabe and goes on the run as guards attempt to capture and contain him.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Mind control; totalitarian authority; relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is violence in the film, including:

  • Two teenagers get into a fight and punch each other in the face.
  • An infant child is euthanized, and the film includes details of injection shots that are used to euthanize individuals on a daily basis. The euthanized infant is put into a box and thrown down a garbage chute.
  • The Giver provides Jonas with a war-based memory in which a man is shot and killed (blood is seen). A stranger also jumps out of a tree in an attempt to attack Jonas, who then shoots him.
  • The film depicts an execution via lethal injection.
  • Stun guns are used to immobilize individuals so that they can be taken away when they demonstrate resistance.
  • Two hunters shoot an elephant, after which it falls to the ground and dies.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be scared by many scenes in this movie, including the violence described above

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could particularly scare or disturb children aged under eight, including the following:

  • Jonas steals a motor scooter and proceeds to carry Gabe on the front carrier. When the battery dies, Jonas is forced to walk and carry Gabe through the desert and into snow- covered mountains – they are seen to be exhausted, with bleeding and cracked lips from the cold wind.
  • Individuals are put into a trance where they are instructed to hold onto internal pain and to not express it – the trances cause pain to the person experiencing them, and they offer information and visual memories.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains mild sexual references, including:

  • The elders within the community discuss how love leads to sex, which leads to murder and death. As a result, they believe that emotions are negative things and the word ‘love’ is banished from being used. People of all ages are not allowed to touch anyone who is not a member of their direct nuclear family – they are not allowed to hug or kiss their family either. People in relationships are not permitted to have sex, and it is not explained how pregnancies occur.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains mild sexual activity, including:

  • A young couple share a kiss – the girl is nervous, and walks away after asking ‘What was that?’ He later dreams that he kisses her again after a wedding.

Use of substances

The film includes substance use, including:

  • Lethal injections are used throughout the film as a form of euthanasia and execution

Coarse language

The film contains mild coarse language, including:

  • mild name-calling such as ‘stupid’ and ‘weird’, in addition to religious exclamations such as ‘Lord please’.

In a nutshell

The Giver is a futuristic story about the degradation of humanity in the search for utopia. It makes a comment on the damage that can be done when communities have the technological capacity to alter emotional states and memories. It also highlights the importance of individual thought and independence, as well as the significance of learning from past experience and historical events. Relationships are presented as necessary and positive additions to a balanced life, whether they are based primarily on friendship or on sexual intimacy and romance.

The film is based on young adult fiction, with themes and disturbing scenes that make it unsuitable for most children under 15, although some younger children may have read the book.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Knowing when to stand up to individuals in positions of authority, and when to break the rules set in place by society at large.
  • The importance of being inquisitive and questioning the nature of society as well as its moral code.
  • The need to rely on your friends, and to allow them to assist you when you need additional support.

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