A few years ago, I took a class on Children's Literature and Film because I was interested in how the two mediums connect.
Before that course, I was of the opinion that the worth of a film based on a book was solely determined by how accurately it mirrored the book. If it deviated more than the slightest bit, changed characters or plot points, it was BAD.
Ok, now some movies based on books do turn out badly (I still am so disappointed by The Lightning Thief) but I've changed my criteria for judging. Does the film honor the spirit of the book? Are the changes made necessary because film is a visual medium and elements need to be handled differently? It makes a difference. I have to admit, I loved the Harry Potter movies and they weren't always faithful to the text of the books. Plot points changed and, in my opinion, some of the best characters never even made it into the films (sorry Peeves).
Film is such a perfect medium for connecting students to books. It is multi-sensory and engaging for even the most reluctant readers. Visual literacy is a critical skill and film studies is a great way to incorporate it into the English/Language Arts curriculum. In my book to film unit, students read a middle grade book that has been made into a film. After some modeling by me, they take notes on the book and the movie and write an essay discussing how successful the adaption was in staying true to the book and being a great film. Since we read The Giver in our Battle of the Books program, this movie will definitely be going into my film library.
Lowry has been very involved in the making of The Giver and I think that is a good sign. There are things that will not be the same (characters are older, scenes left out), but will the movie capture the themes and spirit of the book? I hope so!