My daughters enjoy movies like "The Hunger Games," "Divergent," and "Maze Runner." We've seen all three "Hunger Games" movies – with one more to go. I finally finished the last Hunger Games book on my trip to Corinth and I didn't enjoy how the series ended at all. It was a huge disappointment.
I've never liked fantasy or science fiction very much. I enjoyed "Lord of the Rings" but didn't love them (which makes me feel guilty among some devoted fans). I've never seen one Star Wars movie (which I could blame on not being allowed to go to movies growing up, but I still haven't seen one of them). Basically, I don't love watching movies where something is totally impossible and infeasible. A movie loses me at that point (although I did enjoy Harry Potter quite a bit, I suppose). But for the most part, I've never been a big fan of fantasy or science fiction. And I assumed that is why I also didn't enjoy these dystopian-type movies.
I also knew that I didn't like them because there was no worldview to them. Often, movies can have some semblance of a biblical worldview even if they don't realize it. But those movies don't seem to. (Although I'm speaking particularly of "The Hunger Games" because I've read the entire series. I have no idea how the other series end.)
All that to say – I wasn't surprised that I didn't love the movies that have been plentiful and popular – like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner. I supposed I enjoyed the first two movies in The Hunger Games more than the third or the other two movies I mentioned, but I was always unsettled.
Recently I read a positive Christian review about a movie called "The Giver." I had no idea it was the same genre as the other movies. I assumed it was about generosity. But once I checked it out of the library, my youngest told me that it was the basis of all the other movies with a dystopian theme. (If dystopian is a new word… just think of the opposite of utopian society. It could literally be translated, "not a good place.")
Well, surprising to myself and my daughter, I loved "The Giver." If you have been a bit mystified by the movies I've listed or didn't enjoy them – I would encourage you to watch "The Giver."
Here are three main differences that I noticed in "the Giver" compared to other dystopian movies:
- There is a clear darkness and light – right and a wrong. And those going along with the wrong aren't even aware they are blinded. They just can't see. Something must happen to them so they can see clearly. There are wonderful biblical themes there.
- Right is found outside of ourselves – not in ourselves. With the other movies, it seems that hope is found in the young. And they don't have a basis for that morality – it is just somehow in them and not in anyone else. "The Giver" doesn't claim that God is that morality-giver, but you can tell that right is found outside of the darkness (or black and white) that everyone is living in. In movies, I always want to know where the hero gets their morality from. And in the movies I listed above, it is almost always a young teenager who has morality that no one else seems to possess. There is something bothersome about that to me.
- There is hope. And hope is found outside of yourself. I haven't read the Divergent or Maze Runner books – so maybe hope will show up, but so far – I don't see it. And The Hunger Games was terrible when it came to the theme of finding hope outside of ourselves.
If you haven't seen it – watch "The Giver" and tell me what you think.