I know it’s been nearly a month since the release of Divergent, but I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately and haven’t found time to go to the theater. So last Thursday, my kids begged and pleaded to go and see this Blockbuster movie. Three of the five read the book series, and were interested to see how Divergent was going to look on the big screen. So we loaded up the family trickster, and headed downtown to our local movie theater here in Durango.
We got the popcorn, the drinks, and sat through 25 minutes of previews; and then it began.
I must admit, my overall critique of this film–TWO THUMBS UP.
Clearly the genre of teenage movies has shifted from Vampires and Werewolves to this Hunger Games style of survival. The movie had many similar themes the Hunger Games has, and the heroine of the film was the clear protagonist.
The story is pretty simple. Somewhere in the future apocalyptic post war of Chicago has emerged a new society working to form a peaceful union. The catch–there are certain groups everyone has to live with to make this society function. Factions, as they’re called, are formed when at age 16 each human undergoes a series of tests to find out what they are gifted to be.
Some are gifted thinkers, others protectors. Some are farmers, and others are peace advocates. Every now and then the audience gets a glimpse of the “faction-less,” or homeless tribes; but the clear message of the film is “You were born to be something.”
I like the idea, but I’m sure most Americans struggle with this notion. The cry of our culture is, “You can be anything you want to be,” with enough hard work and luck, you can dream to the moon and back. Divergent scoffs at this idea.
The heroine of the film, Beatrice, is tested and finds out she doesn’t have any clear indicators for the faction she must choose, so she’s left as an outsider. The factions call people without clear gifts, Divergents.
Divergents are the one’s who threaten the status quo because they can think through all the gifts and come up with different ways of solving problems. They are quick thinkers, adventurous spirits, and the leadership of each faction seeks to identify and terminate any divergence from the norm.
Without giving the film away, you can see how disturbing this might be. For teenagers out there trying to fit in someplace, ANYPLACE, they are threatened for being different and forced into the social rules set out for them.
At the end of the movie, my kids and I had a great discussion about what a society of factions might look like in America. I asked them a few questions:
Is that good or bad?
Has history every tried to do something like this? (we got to talk about Stalin of communism, Pol Pot of Cambodia, and even talked about how our faith leaders sometimes try to get us all to think the same.)
We ended with, What faction would you fit in?
You know what? They hit it pretty much right on the money. I was impressed my kids had a pretty good grasp at what they’re good at, and what they’re not.
Overall, I think you’ll enjoy this film. It creates an air of conversation worth talking about with the people you go with, and conjures up historical references that are good to think about. I do think the movie hits the core of the teen world today as so many students I work with are asking the very questions posed in the film.
What am I going to be when I grow up?
What will my family think?
What happens when I have to stand up for something I believe in?
How do I handle the bully in the room?
What does it take to be excellent in all I do?
If you have time, and you want an entertaining ride with lots of discussion…Have fun!!