Tris is Divergent, and in a perfect society based upon conformity, that is a deadly thing to be labeled. She can’t help it though, the simulations don’t work on her, she thinks freely, and all she wants to do is to understand who she is. She slips under the radar of choosing day, and continues as a recruit without making waves or garnering to much attention.
This works out pretty well for her. She settles in well with the faction she choose, until she figures out with some other new recruits, and her new boyfriend, that there is a leader who is seeking to destroy those who they deem dangerous to the society they live in. The Divergents. Divergents can’t be controlled, so they must be destroyed. After all, free thinkers are dangerous creatures, why in the world should they be allowed to live in a society where such thinking is forbidden?
Things I Liked
Tris is the heroine of this tale. Young, innocent, and unassuming, we watch her grow from a scared girl to a decisive woman through the length of this first part of a three part series. She, being divergent, struggles with the fact that she wants to do bad things, but knows she shouldn’t. She feels something isn’t right with the way society is, but can’t place it just yet. She risks her life for the love of other in some places of the movie, yet refuses to forgive another after they did a terrible wrong. She’s human, and we may not understand her, but we root for her to make the right choices, and watch her suffer for the wrong ones.
Four, Tris’ Trainer and becomes a boyfriend, also is a character of worth. He is reserved and soft spoken, wise, and dangerous. He is also selfless and humble. We learn he choose to serve as a teacher, rather than become a leader of his faction. We see him give up glory to another where he could have had it, and talks about courage being of character, not of physical skill. He is a person to look up to, and respect, which he does as a teacher, but also in his relationship with Tris.
Tris’ parents are also of note. They tell Tris no matter what she chooses, they will still love her. Later, both parents defend Tris and her friends from danger, and also fight against the terrible acts being done in the city. They are rare examples of beautiful, shining, near perfect examples of selfless love
Human nature is not prettied up, nor excused in this movie. Rather, it is human nature that is blamed in Divergent for all the problems in society. Ironically, the faction of selflessness, is the one which is the most commendable, yet also the most persecuted. Denying selflessness is denying almost everything else in human nature. The faction also yields the most divergents, which provides an interesting, possible parallel to a certain Faith I, and others hold.
Things I Didn’t Like
Peace is what man supposedly desires, war is what humanity yields. One faction winds up betraying another, and this yields in a virtual genocide of people. Unarmed men, women, and children are lined up to be shot, reminiscent of the holocaust videos we’ve seen. Individual people who run or are found to be divergent are shot as well. What is worse however, is the murderers are not aware of what they are doing. When they wake, they are torn apart with grief realizing what they did. A person commits suicide. There are also various fighting matches setup as part as Tris’ training. A guy is shot in the crotch with a stun gun.
Four and Tris do Kiss passionately for a good thirty seconds in one scene. We also see in Tris’ fear landscape simulation, she is afraid of Four “Having his way with her”, she gets out of it without anything explicit, but we understand her fear perfectly. Tris’ faction also has co-ed dorms, with no privacy of showers of bathrooms. This results in some inappropriate comments from some other recruits. Catcalls are made when Tris removes her sweater.
Triss, and some other Dauntless initiates go and get tattoos. We see numerous ink stained people, and Triss gets a symbolic raven tattoo on her upper chest. All Dauntless have piercings or tattoos of some sort.
God’s name is used in vain six times, the “a” word is used twice, and Tris’ is called a B—-h
Other Things to be Aware Of
There is a capture the flag game as part of Tris’ training as a new recruit. In the book, it was paintball. Here in the movie, we find stun guns which fire rounds the simulate real pain. No permanent damage is done to anyone, but we see many fall over because of the rounds.
I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest. I have the most trouble being kind.
In the current world of teen fiction, this one fits right in among the current status and writing types. Teen Hero? Check. Dystopian Society? Check. Romantic involvement? Check. The benefit of that though, or detriment- depending on your position, is how our culture is currently gobbling up this novel and now the film release to accompany it. I read the book before seeing this movie, so many points that I make are based off not only the film, but the understanding of the book as well.
Divergent focuses yet again, on how to maintain peace in a war stricken society. The solution of Five Factions worked for a hundred years, but like all plans of man, they failed. Tris, Four, and others of the Divergent demonstrate just how fragile a society based on works is. Unlike other teen novels/films of late though, this one gets it right in the diagnosis of the core problem.
It is said many times that Human Nature is the cause for all the problems of the world. It is human nature to lie, so they created Candor. It is human nature to be afraid- so the created Dauntless. It is human nature to fight- so they created Amity. It is human nature to be foolish- so they created Erudite. And above all, it is human nature to be selfish- so they created Abnegation (Or selflessness). Each faction denies a person a piece of innate human nature, and we see people fight against it throughout the film.
Those who fail, are the ones who cause the tragedy found in the movie. And that’s where they leave us in the first of these three films. Divergent is different. Not because of the creative story, but because of the basic understanding of man presented. The understanding that we don’t just have to fight to remain at peace with others, but we have to deny ourselves in our selfish sins of fear, deceit, foolishness, and contentiousness.
We explore this world through Tris, who isn’t good and she knows it, but strives to be so anyway. This results in a tale which provides a solid story, an engaging set of characters, and incredible sacrifice. It will be interesting to see how Divergent is redeemed in the end, but for now, I believe this is a film which is to be commended and recommended with tact, keeping in mind the tragic content contained therein.