Giving and Receiving



An evening with Micheal Flaherty.

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In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, memories are painful not because they are held, but because of the loneliness with which the Giver holds them. “Memories need to be shared,” says the Giver. This idea to share the good and the bad is brought to screen well in the film adaptation directed by Phillip Noyce and produced by Walden Media. Fortunately for us at Harvard, Walden Media’s Co-Founder and President, Micheal Flaherty, was on hand to discuss his involvement in the film this past Saturday, September 20th at the SOCH. Sponsored by Harvard Christian Impact and Athletes in Action, this event included a free first-come, first-served screening of The Giver, popcorn and drinks included.

The movie itself was an entertaining feast for the eyes. Staying true to the originality of the story, most of the film was shot in black and white except for the Giver’s memories and moments when Jonah could “see beyond.” While this was a unique approach to storytelling in contemporary film, some of the artistry was downplayed by redundant, superimposed sans-serif text repeating the already drawn-out voiceovers and narration. On the other hand, the cuts to colorful collages encompassing all that is inspiring in the world did leave an uplifting taste in the viewer’s palette. From fascinating footage of flora and fauna to historical acts of bravery such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, these scenes integrated well as images of humanity’s greatest triumphs. Overall, the film, bound by its PG-13 rating, retained a more implicit commentary on the sociopolitical issues of the original story. Infanticide, equality, censorship, freedom, and love were tackled from the angle of destined heroes attempting to break the mold of oppression through inspiration, never explicitly challenging the establishment head-on as rebellions in the real world historically took place.

No matter your opinion on the film, the event was a wonderful opportunity to hear the thoughts of Micheal Flaherty, who helped to produce the film. Flaherty’s insights on his own views towards sociopolitical matters framed in his Christian beliefs were thought provoking in a way that was neither intrusive nor overbearing. Although he affirmed that his motivation was drawn from faith, which contrasts with much of the perception of working in Hollywood, Flaherty was both open and honest to questions regarding his own life experiences tied to his career. Such a manner of believing strongly in your own path while not judging or being affected by the choices of others is a difficult lifestyle to lead, especially in the competitive environment of the entertainment industry. Being able to have that fortitude is certainly a plus, and definitely a perspective useful to university students insecure about which “path” they have to take. Sometimes, you may have to make decisions and compromises that are not ideal, but if you stay true to yourself, then even the most unlikely of opportunities may occur. Flaherty was certain to emphasize that point in how he stumbled his way to bringing a fan-favorite of children’s literature to film. And above all he drove home that no matter your dream, optimism goes a long way for you to one day “see beyond” as well.

Michael Luo ’16 (michaelluo@college) now realizes he is not special for being able to see in color.