Art & Design Magazine

Divergent: Reading the Book, Watching the Movie

By Mariagrazia @SMaryG
DIVERGENT: READING THE BOOK, WATCHING THE MOVIEDivergent - the storyHaving been hailed as “the next Hunger Games“ Divergent is the first book in a trilogy by Veronica Roth (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiance) taking place in post-apocalyptic Chicago,  where society is divided into five factions. Each of them represents  a different virtue: Erudite (the intelligent),  Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Abnegation (the selfless). At  16 teenagers  have to decide if they want to stay in their faction or switch to another - for the rest of their lives. Tris Prior makes a choice that surprises everyone. Then Tris and her fellow faction-members have to live through a highly competitive initiation process to live out the choice they have made. They must undergo extreme physical and intense psychological tests, that transform them all. But Tris has a secret,  that she is divergent, which means she doesn't fit into any one of the groups. If anyone knew, it would mean certain death. As she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, this secret might help her save the people she loves... or it might destroy her .
My Divergent Journal 

Step 1.  Meeting Tris and Four on the pages of the book DIVERGENT: READING THE BOOK, WATCHING THE MOVIEJust finished reading Divergent by Veronica Roth and now I'm ready to see the movie coming out on April 3 (here in Italy) What is it with these YA novels? I know I’m definitely not the intended demographic but… 1. They are fun 2. They are well written 3. I like them. With Divergent, I don't know what it was exactly,  but  I couldn't stop. The book is  rather well written though  predictable once you've read  other YA - dystopian or not - novels. It combines the  toughness of living in a dystopian society with the need to remain human, has a thrilling plot, relatable characters and I liked it for several different reasons.-   Remarkable ancestors: Orwell, Huxley, BradburyIt was impossibile not to think of Aldous Huxley, George Orwell or Ray Bradbury while reading Divergent: Urban decay after an apocaliptic war, the dangerous wish to create the perfect society in order to avoid a new catastrophe, the sacrifice of freedom on the altar of order and stability, the possibility of total control of human minds, the dangers coming from a  unscrupoled application of scientific research. DIVERGENT: READING THE BOOK, WATCHING THE MOVIETris:  the fighterAfter Katniss in The Hunger Games or Clary in The Mortal Instrumentssaga, it is clear. The new hero of popular literature is the brave, strong willed, resourceful young woman. Quite a cliche now, a new stereotype, but one I like. This is due to the fact that the majority of teen readers are girls and also to the female authorship. So Beatrice Prior, Tris, has so much to share with Katniss and Clary – see her independent temper, her physical and mental strength, her not being defined by the relationship with a  love interest  - but she  is also different from them.  She is divergent, not easily categorized, not easily manipulated or controlled, hence a danger to the system of the Five factions.DIVERGENT: READING THE BOOK, WATCHING THE MOVIE  Four:  strong and fragile at the same timeWith Four, Veronica Roth  has created a male hero which blends strength and fragility. The new teen heroes are often broken souls which hide their vulnerability behind a mask of self-confidence, toughness, if not aggressiveness. Four doesn’t hide his own flaws nor his fears  from Tris, once he understands they share quite a lot. He doesn’t want to be just one thing: he wants to be brave, selfless , intelligent, honest and kind. If he achieved all those qualities,  he would be a dream man, but … well, he must still work on kindness.  Four, like Tris, is Divergent, that is a danger to the   system,  but it is clear that he can beat her only for greater physical strength and his experience. Though an initiate,  Tris is already as strong as he is at conquering her own fears, or even stronger.  Are you even human?, he asks her.        Romance and adventureDIVERGENT: READING THE BOOK, WATCHING THE MOVIEI love when a thrilling, gripping story is based on adventure but doesn’t neglect romance. This is indispensabile to a desperate romantic soul like mine. Tris meets Four and is immediately stirred by his charming looks though her sexual attraction to him will soon become one of the fears she has to control and conquer. It will be part of her “fear landscape”. This is because Beatrice is from Abnegation and her education has been quite reprimanding and chastising, so she is inexperienced and doesn’t know how to cope with all those new emotions his only presence provokes in her. Anyhow, this is not an extraordinary problem, any ordinary teenagers can relate to Tris as for that.Step 2.  A lesson for my students and looking forward to watching the filmSoon after reading the book I thought: “ I’m sure my students would love the movie and, maybe,  some of the girls who regularly read, could even try the book in the original language”. So I started surfing the Net to find materials about and from the book as well as about and from the movie to create activities for a lab lesson: an excerpt from the book, a review of the movie (which had been released in the US meanwhile) for reading comprehension activities, a trailer and some clips for the listening comprehension tasks.


So much was said just with looks and stares  

This was the result , which my 3rd year students (16 year old boys and girls) seemed to appreciate quite a bit while we were working in the lab. Now they know what dystopia means, have learnt about the five factions, have to imagine which one they would be willing to belong to and … are looking forward to going to the cinema.
Step 3. Watching the movie  "The fate of the world depends on the courage of two"I didn't read much about the movie, neither before nor after watching it. Before,  I only knew it starred Shailene Woodley as Tris (never seen her in anything apart in TV ads  for an American TV series I’ve never actually watched) and Theo James  as Four (well,  he  was someone I had seen and remembered from Downton Abbey season 1 and A Passionate Woman).  After watching it, I am only sure of this:  I liked it very much,  it was a very good movie.
I was driven to the nearest theater (70 km) by my nephew,  who likes this kind of books and movies too, just on the day Divergent came out here in Italy (3 April).  It was tense, well acted, well directed, on the whole a brilliant job. The teenagers (girls!)  in the theater were so excited , but they were really well behaved: no disturbing giggling and I was so grateful. As for me, I was there studying each fragment, line, expression and trying to compare everything to the book for most of the first part.  I hate when I watch a movie like that, though. Fortunately, I simply forgot to do the same while watching the second part: things got more and more complicated and frightening so I let myself be totally caught by the emotions. I was very oftern breathless and was relatively glad I knew what was ahead, it made me feel quite reassured.I must admit this movie was perfectly cast. Chemistry between the main actors was great, the leads were both definitely convincing as Tris and Four. You could notice even their shivering  and flinching, so many of their hidden thoughts were clearly readable on their faces. So much was said just with looks and stares in this movie! All the other actors were brilliant too, though I expected something more for Peter, Al and Christina. They had maybe less space than I expected.
Divergent readers won’t be disappointed, anyway,  by what they will see on the screen. The very few, slight changes won’t puzzle them.   I think that the movie is as fierce and  daring as the book, though some production decisions cut out few of its most violent,  bloody scenes (the initiate girl falling down after leaping out from the train in motion, Edward stabbed in the eye,  for instance).  To see Kate Winslet to play the severe, scheming leader of the Erudites was a pleasant surprise, since I especially remember her for her romantic leads, Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility or Rose in Titanic.Visually stunning and with a good soundtrack, this movie is one of the few YA sagas adapted for the screen in the last few years,  which didn’t fail in the process. It’s been welcomed so positively that film 2 and 3 are already in  pre-production.  And I am happy for that. Well deserved.
Which faction would I belong if I lived in the world of Divergent? Not to Dauntless, that’s for sure. Pity I’d miss the chance to meet Tris and Four, but I really couldn't survive one day there. What about  you? Which faction would you believe you'd fit in? Or you feel like you'd be divergent?      

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog