So what if the utopian masterminds do gain the upper hand? After all, liberty (the kind that we know here in the U.S.) is a rare bird in the greater history of mankind. But what if the utopian statists win? I mean, get everything that they want? Well, if the Giver is any indication, that future is dim entirely. No, I mean literally. These folks cannot see color on the spectrum of light, only dull tones of black and gray. Experience and research show that people who are cooped up inside a poorly lit house suffer emotionally and socially compared to people who see regularly the outdoor light and all the vibrant colors that it brings. It holds a revivifying effect on the senses and re-energizes the soul.
Most utopias, it seems, try to take the route of iron-fisted, top-down, centralized authority to stamp out human greed and inequality (but human greed and inequality is always obvious within the very masterminds who try to stamp it out!) This book/movie takes the rarer route of actually changing the state of human nature itself. (I won’t tell you how, but they do!)
The Giver is rich in the poetic origins of suffering. In order to properly vanquish immorality once and for all certain other positive dispositions have to be extinguished also: like love, for example. If we can flatline emotion altogether – at least the major, mountainous parts of it – then we will have “the perfect system” (to quote Tron).
What is the “perfect system”? Maybe it’s not so perfect after all.
Plato, one of the earliest and most pronounced philosophers on attempting to create the perfect “Ideal City,” tried twice to make utopia and failed miserably on both occasions. In his final attempt, Plato envisioned a grand city in which there were three classes: Guardians (philosopher-kings who could be trusted because they could do no wrong), Auxiliaries (the military caste), and Producers (who had very little rights and fulfilled the tasks of virtual slaves). You can easily see this method of government play out in history on horrible repeat (Marxism, Socialism, Democratic-Socialism; in other words, Statism and Neo-Statism in general…we’ll just clump them all together right here).
So what was Plato’s problem with moving forward with utopia? Well, for one, history. There was simply too much of it lying around for utopianism to advance forward. In other words, the majority of any population subject to statist control would remember…. And memory is a problem for this style of autocratic, Soviet-style government. There is too much memory going on here, and THAT. HAS TO BE. SQUELCHED!
If we loose history, we loose freedom.
The Giver is the first fiction that I have encountered which addresses, in essence, that stumbling block of Plato’s paradise – collective memory. It goes much deeper than just learning lessons in civics class. It goes into why we as a collective body of people must retain our humanhood and why freedom is dependent upon faith, hope, and love.
I cannot go into it without ruining it. =)
So basically this beautiful movie is about why it is important to remember history, to feel, to retain our basic notions of reality like love and faith, and how freedom rests on these things, and how without these things there is no freedom to pass on from one generation to the next.
[Images from impawards]