5 things we learned at The Giver Comic-Con panel

It may have taken Lois Lowry‘s best-selling novel almost two decades to make it to the big screen but that doesn’t mean the author is any less excited for a new generation of fans to be introduced to her dystopian teenage tale. First published in 1993, the road to the big screen was a long and arduous one so it’s not so surprising that the filmmakers, cast and Lowry herself look almost relieved to finally be sharing it — more specifically aspects of it — with the 6,000-strong crowd in Comic-Con‘s Hall H.

Starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Swift and newcomers Odeya Rush and Brenton Thwaites, The Giver is set to hit theatres on August 15. But before it does, we suggest you dig into five big facts we learned from the cast, Lowry herself and director Phillip Noyce at the big Comic-Con panel in July:

1. The Dude Abides. Jeff Bridges has been trying to get an adaptation of the novel into movie theatres since it was first published in 1993. At the time, he planned to just direct The Giver and hoped he could get his father, Lloyd Bridges, to play the titular character. As the years passed, Bridges realized he’d aged enough that he would now be an appropriate choice for the part, and so handed the reins of the production over to Noyce.

2. The colour’s the thing. Though the technology’s been around since 1939, it’s rare to see filmmakers play around with and pair colour and black and white imagery on screen. Though Schindler’s List and Pleasantvilleboth used the device to great affect, it’s a rarely done thing. But behold, here comes The Giver. The extended trailer audiences were treated to in San Diego showed that, like in the novel, movie-goers will see a black and white on-screen existence slowly transition into colour as Brenton Thwaites‘ character Jonas is clued in to just how much humanity has lost in its search for perfection.

3. Meryl makes it better. Though many of the characters remain unchanged in their journey from page to screen, Lowry told the assembled masses that there is one big exception: Meryl Streep‘s Chief Elder. Though she appears only briefly in the book, the role has been expanded for the movie and, having seen Streep’s performance, the author admitted she’d love to go back and re-write the character to match-up with the actresses interpretation. She was awed by Streep’s ability to play the subtleties of the Chief Elder, and loved that the actress was able to allow the character’s commitment and values to shine through without becoming an outright villain. That doesn’t mean, she said, that the showdown between Bridge’s Giver (good) and Streep’s Elder (less good) isn’t something magnificent to behold.

4. Age is just a number. The only other significant change apparent in the big-screen version of the story is the ages of the main characters, played here by Thwaites and Odeya Rush. In the novel Jonas and Fiona are just 12 years old, but the actor found it easier for their characters burgeoning relationship to be taken seriously if they were older, hopefully meaning audiences would find themselves more engrossed in the challenges the twosome face. Author Lowry was initially less-than-thrilled with the change, but had a change of heart upon seeing the finished film.

5. Could there be more? The novel was so successful, Lowry wrote three more stories to complete the series. Does that mean there’s plans for further adaptations? Not as yet, explained the writer, but she’s open to the possibility should there be the interest from audiences.

Bonus factoid: Though contemporaries, The Giver marks the very first time Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep have ever worked together on screen. The actor noted that he’s known Meryl for years and loves her, just like the rest of us. But what’s she actually like? “Meryl’s like a soccer mom,” Bridges laughed. “Our kids played soccer together!”

The Giver hits theatres tomorrow, August 15.

(Originally posted on Cineplex.com)

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