The filmmakers making THE GIVER are not obligated in any way to consult me. They own the rights to the movie and are working hard to make it the best one possible. But they have kindly invited me to peek at the inner workings, to give my opinions and suggestions. So last week I flew out to LA and spent two days doing just that (and upon returning to Maine have continued to do so through email).
It's facsinating to watch the inner workings, the preliminary hard work that takes place before the cameras are ever turned on (as they will be in South Africa, where the movie is to be shot, in September). Set designs (spectacular)...in progress. Costume designs (fascinating)....in progress. Casting (impressive)...in progress. Script tweaking (endless)...in progress.
Yes, the boy Jonas will be older in the film than the book...as will his friends Asher and Fiona. Some readers are already annoyed (in some cases outraged) about that. Entertainment Tonight apparently says that I should be, too. I'm not. A book and a movie are not the same thing. A movie needs visual stuff, and action; and this is a laregly quiet and introspective book. In the film there will be things happening that are much more believable if an older teenager is doing them...the escape of the boy and the baby is much...what would the word be...bigger, vaster, harder. Epic.
Here I am, at the home of director Phillip Noyce, with Australian actor Brenton Thwaites, who will be playing Jonas alongside Jeff Bridges as The Giver. He has, you'll notice, dark eyes. "They're removing my eyes for the movie," he told me (with those very same eyes twinkling) and I'll have artifical blue eyes." "Hah," I replied. I admire the sacrificies you are willing to make for your art."
Of course they can (and will) give him blue eyes. And of course they can make a red apple appear suddenly in a black-and-white scene. Movie-making is about magic....