Make It Relatable

“The Giver” was a popular young adult novel about a community that eliminates emotions in favor of sameness. The idea is to create the perfect utopia by eliminating pain, fear, greed, and envy. If everyone is drugged up, they’ll feel the same way all the time and not want to create any problems.

The problem with the movie is that it doesn’t clearly explain everything that’s going on. The hero is assigned as the keeper of the memories, but when he meets the current keeper of the memories, they transfer memories to each other through touching. Oddly, these memories consist of images from the past from all over the world. Perhaps in the book this ability to store memories from all over the world from the past makes sense, but in the movie it comes across as unrealistic and odd.

Having accepted that the hero can receive memories of events from the past throughout the world, the next illogical part occurs when the hero escapes the community. By simply stepping past the boundary of the community, he’s able to bring a flood of memories back to everyone still in the community. Huh? This isn’t really explained or shown earlier in the movie so when it occurs in the end, it’s interesting but not very satisfying.

Imagine if in “Star Wars” we never saw the Death Star until the end and we never knew what the Death Star could do (blow up entire planets). Then the ending of “Star Wars” would be equally dissatisfying because we wouldn’t care about the Death Star, we wouldn’t know what the Death Star could do so there’s no suspense, and the Death Star would just pop out of nowhere so it would jar the flow of the story by introducing something new at the last minute. That same sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction mars the ending of “The Giver.”

“The Giver” is actually an interesting movie right up until the unsatisfying ending. However, it shows the importance of making sure the audience clearly understands how the hero can defeat the villain in the end. In a movie like “The Karate Kid,” it’s clear to everyone that the hero must beat the villain in a karate match. In “The Giver,” it’s not clear to the audience how stepping beyond the boundary of the community will magically give everyone old memories of the past that they never experienced before. When your ending is muddled and vague, the audience’s satisfaction will likely be muddled and vague.

So in your story, make sure everything not only makes sense but is something audiences can relate to. In “The Giver,” audiences who read the book may be able to relate to the ending of the movie, but everyone else will just be puzzled and the last thing you want is for your ending to feel anything but emotionally satisfying and complete.

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