This is not to be taken to mean that I'm advocating for people to be rude, violent, and dishonest- quite the opposite, in fact. I frequently lament the coarseness and vulgarity which now permeates our culture and discourse. However, my desire to see people behave and speak in a more civil and courteous way doesn't lead me to believe that they should be required to conform to my standards. This is what forming such a society would demand: enforced obedience to the regulations and strictures of a ruling body- in this case, the Council of Elders.
All the best dystopian fiction identifies problems or issues in our present day society and magnifies them, or extrapolates from them, providing an exaggerated view of their consequences or outcomes which can cause us to consider and question our opinions and responses to these things. Though by no means a perfect movie, The Giver does this, which makes me willing to overlook its flaws and give serious thought to its subject matter. So with that in mind, here are some of the issues contained in the film, and my opinions on them.
We especially see this policy of polite euphamism in practice when dealing with the newborns at the nurturing center. They are not given their names until they are assigned to a family. Up until that time, they are referred to as "uncertains". Why is this? Well, if they have names, they are people, and deciding to kill them because they were not developing at the expected rate, or because there is an excess of babies (ie. twins) would be wrong. But if they're not yet people, well, it doesn't really matter, does it? This is also the reason when someone is sent to Elsewhere, like Jonas or the previous Receiver, their names are no longer allowed to be said. They've been un-personed.
The Chief Elder says that all these things are necessary to preserve their community, but in my opinion, their way of life isn't worth preserving. At best it's half a life, one built on control, deceit, and ignorance... it's merely a polite, solicitous form of tyranny.
In Part IV, I'll discuss how I think the issues raised in The Giver relate to our present day society, and give my final thoughts on this film.