By Jaclyn Myers (Virginia)
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A Truly Divergent Movie

Divergent, directed by Neil Burger in 2014, is the first movie in a series of action-adventure thrillers based off of the books by Veronica Roth. The film is set in a world where people are divided in factions based on their values and beliefs. The main character, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), finds out she is a “divergent”, meaning she does not fit into only one faction. She has a different thought process, and therefore is unable to conform to one group. Her world is turned upside down when she discovers a conspiracy by another faction leader, Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), to kill all of the divergent. Tris must now depend on herself and the help of the dark and mysterious Four (Theo James). They embark on an action-packed adventure to discover why being divergent is so dangerous and put an end to the chaos.

The movie takes place in the fenced-off city of Chicago, 100 years from now, after all wars have ended. In this city, the people have been divided into five factions, all valuing different things. There is Abnegation, the selfless, Candor, the honest, Erudite, the intelligent, Amity, the peace-makers, and Dauntless, the brave. The story begins with the young Beatrice Prior in her small family in the faction of Abnegation. Both Beatrice and her brother Caleb are about to become of age, meaning they will take a test and based on their results, they will choose which faction they want to be a member of. The catch is, if they choose to transfer to a new faction, they will leave their families behind forever.

The story takes an exciting turn when Beatrice’s results come back as inconclusive and she is informed she is a divergent. She is told to keep this a secret and never tell anyone, not even her family. She leaves the testing center completely unaware of what this means or why it is so dangerous. The following day is the choosing ceremony where every individual who is of age must choose their faction in front of the whole city. To everyone’s surprise, both Beatrice and Caleb transfer; Caleb to Erudite, and Beatrice to Dauntless. Once with their new factions, the initiates must perform whatever initiation process their faction has decided on. Beatrice feels in order to really be a part of the Dauntless she must forget her old life as a member of Abnegation. She decides a good way to do this is to change her name, so she introduces herself as Tris. After meeting the people whom she will be living with, assuming she passes initiation, Tris and the other initiates begin their training. This training includes a series of both physical and mental challenges. The Dauntless are known for having the most brutal initiation process of all the factions.

Four, a member of the Dauntless, is in charge of training the initiates who transferred from other factions to Dauntless. Four seems to be taking a special interest in Tris, though it passes unmentioned for a long while. Tris is confused as to whether he likes her and is pushing her to ensure she does well, or dislikes her and thinks she’s weak. She is full of mixed thoughts of his opinion of her due to his dark and mysterious personality. He is not the kind of person to speak his mind or give reasons for his actions, this is confusing to Tris.

During their training, the Dauntless leaders are keeping track of who is doing well and who is not. Those who fall below a certain point on the charts are to be cut from Dauntless and forced to live factionless (basically homeless). This point in the movie is where we see Tris’ character being transformed. She goes from a quiet, Abnegation girl, with no fighting experience, to a true Dauntless member. Her entire character is changed for the better. Tris exchanges her position of nearly last in Dauntless rankings, to number one. Being this high up in the ranks, however, is dangerous. Not only because she is divergent, but simply because those people under her will make her a target in order to get ahead. This does happen to her. She is attacked and nearly killed by other Dauntless initiates, one of whom she thought was her friend.

After the attack, the suspicions of romance between Tris and Four are confirmed. What would a good story be without some kind of love interest? Four rescues Tris from being thrown off a bridge, into a deep chasm. They are both still slightly confused about their feelings for each other, however, they do know there is something between them. Tris and Four both decide they cannot be together right now. If the other initiates saw Tris was dating their initiation leader, there would be suspicions that he is playing favorites and giving his girlfriend a higher rank due to feelings rather than actual skill. This sense of forbidden love makes this story all the more enticing.

Though the movie adaptation of Divergent is, the majority of the time, the same as the book, there are still quite a few differences that can be found. An individual who is a fan of the book will be able to pick up on these differences and may not be as fond of the movie as they are of the written book. It is a known fact, however, that books being made into movies are always going to have slight changes. These changes are made to improve the way the story is perceived on screen. The changes that are made are subtle, and do not change the actual plotline. They are just a few details that have been altered to produce a more visually pleasing adaptation of the book.

Overall, Divergent is a very well-made visual form of the original book by Veronica Roth. As a fan of both the book and movie, I can definitely say I was very pleased with the casting of the characters. Also, the portrayal of the different factions was very well-done. The visual representation of the fenced-off city and the different faction headquarters was nearly flawless in comparison to the description in the book.

Divergent is one of the few movies made after a book that I was completely pleased with. The way Neil Burger, the director, perceived the story, and brought it to life on screen is a true work of art. This is a definite “must-see” movie.

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