Hilton Head Island resident's iconic photo has cameo in 'The Giver'

08/14/2014 8:38 PM

08/14/2014 8:48 PM

The anticipated film-adaptation of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” hits box offices Friday and includes a tie to Hilton Head Island.

In the film, a futuristic society has managed to rid itself of war, pain and suffering by carefully controlling its members’ choices and emotions.

The result is a colorless, orderly world unforgiving to the sick, the elderly and the questioning, all of whom get sent to the ominous-sounding “Elsewhere.”

The oppressive government’s would-be utopia is challenged when a teenager named Jonas (newcomer Brenton Thwaites) is assigned an apprenticeship with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), the keeper of the community’s collective memories.

The more memories The Giver imparts to Jonas, the more Jonas questions the regime of the Elders, the governing body headed by the villainous Chief Elder (Meryl Streep).

In a scene where Jonas is flipping through archives looking at historic moments of defiance against government, the image of Hilton Head Island resident Jan Kasmir appears.

The iconic anti-war photograph shows a 17-year-old Kasmir holding a chrysanthemum and gazing at armed soldiers at a Vietnam War protest at the Pentagon in 1967.

“It didn’t dawn on me that I could have been killed,” Kasmir said of that day, although she was mere inches from the bayonet-wielding soldiers. In the moment the picture was taken, “I realized they were just boys, as much a victim of a war machine as anyone else,” she said.

The photo was published worldwide and became a symbol of the flower power movement. Kasmir was approached by “The Giver” production team about using the photo. In the movie montage, it is followed by images of Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela, she said.

“Jonas is questioning what’s going on. Back in the day, we had a button that said, ‘Question Authority.’ I think that people do need to think rather than automatically follow the status quo,” she said.

Now 64 and working as a massage therapist on Hilton Head, Kasmir said she “definitely” still believes in civil disobedience.

When she retires, she wants to devote herself to full-time activism and community involvement, she said, adding, “I do my peace one massage at a time right now.”

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