Faith D’Isa ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Nowadays, when a book series becomes a hit, it’s just a matter of time before film studios begin looking into adaptations. The Harry Potter franchise blazed the trail for the young adult book-to-film model, with Twilight and the more recent Hunger Games films bringing in the big bucks. When The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ hit dystopian trilogy, became a huge success, other similar series tried to follow in its footsteps and the tide began to shift towards more realistic, post-apocalyptic stories. With this came the era of modern-day H.G. Wells and George Orwell hopefuls: bleak, fictional futures for the world in which we live. So, when Divergent, a typical Young Adult dystopian novel by Veronica Roth, came into the limelight, film studios jumped on the opportunity.
Now, Divergent has everything going against it since it is constantly being called “the next Hunger Games.” The fan base, having followed the book from its first pages in early 2011, is also ready to criticize every detail, from the depiction of the universe to the casting of Golden Globe-nominated lead actress Shailene Woodley.
However, with the trailer finally out, we’re given our first big look at Beatrice “Tris” Prior and her world as directed by Neil Burger—and this writer’s very pleased.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
The hardest thing that this film has to convey is the multifaceted world that Roth so elaborately creates in her novels, with the four different factions characterized by very specific environments. The trailer does this right off the bat, introducing us to Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) and the idea of “the test”—something that clearly terrifies those who must take it. As we see, Beatrice and a number of other young adults, all from very different walks of life, are sent to take this test to “claim their rightful place” in the world. This serves as the setup for Roth’s “factions”—Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite- each of which value certain aspects of life in post-apocalyptic Chicago.
Though each of the young adults are born into a faction, the test is to show them “who they really are.” However, the test does not work for Beatrice. She is different. She is not meant for one, single faction.
She is divergent.
The rest of the trailer cycles through different events through the eyes of our protagonist, who changes her name to Tris upon deciding to change her faction from Abnegation (the selfless) to Dauntless (the brave). It is clearly emphasized that, in the eyes of the government, being divergent is bad. Those who are divergent bring disaster to the system and cross lines that are not meant to be crossed.
As a member of Dauntless, she must face a number of rigorous tasks set before her by authorities to truly become “one of them,” both physically and mentally. Iconic scenes from the novel like the capture the flag competition and knife throwing sequence are shown with a scarily accurate attention to detail from the original writing.
The rest of the trailer tends to focus on Tris’ growing relationship with someone who’s name, as we learn in the novel, is Four (portrayed by Theo James). Four, as he shows Tris, also has the desire to be in more than one faction, and their combined divergence is something extremely dangerous for not only them, but also the people who surround them.
The trailer allows star Shailene Woodley to shine in a way past footage hasn’t. With all of the skepticism surrounding her casting, the clips were an affirmative push in the right direction. Woodley was initially only known for her role in ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teenager until she was cast in The Descendants with George Clooney, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.
However, people were fairly shocked when Woodley was cast not only in Divergent, but also as the lead in the screen adaptation of John Green’s YA novel The Fault in Our Stars. On top of that, she was cast as Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 before the role was cut for the time being to put emphasis on the existing characters. Woodley has a lot riding on her shoulders in these roles, and Divergent will be the world’s first taste as to how she’ll be portraying these strong female characters.
Divergent is scheduled for a March 21, 2014 release and also stars Zoë Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller and Kate Winslet. With a large fan base, and Woodley’s reputation as a Golden Globe nominee at stake, we’ll have to wait and see how Divergent comes to life.
Check out the full trailer: