Combining Bravery and Selflessness: Behind the Scenes of DIVERGENT


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By Ben Kayser, Managing Editor

DIVERGENT is a thrilling science fiction adventure set in a futuristic, dystopian Chicago that separates its citizens into five factions based on different virtues:  the selfless, the peaceful, the brave, the intelligent and the honest. Beatrice, a young girl from the selfless faction, discovers she doesn’t fit into one particular faction. Instead, she’s what they call, “A Divergent.” This rarity makes her a danger to those in power. So, in order to survive, she must keep it a secret.

DIVERGENT takes typical young adult fiction clichés and sets them in a fascinating, compelling world, which can be read in full detail in our review here.

Movieguide® recently had the chance to ask the director, producer, author, and cast about their take on the five factions and how it relates to them. When asked which of the five factions the cast saw themselves grow in while making the movie, much of the cast said “Dauntless” (bravery) in unison.

Christian Madsen, who plays Al in the movie, explained. “We jump at the chance to say Dauntless because it’s so much different from the life we live,” said Christian Madsen, who plays Al.

Maggie Q, who portrays Tori, agreed with Christian’s sentiment.

“I think it’s easy to say Dauntless,” she said, “because who doesn’t want to celebrate the recklessness. It’s a faction that’s dedicated to that side of your personality. Hopefully, the movie expressed the fact that Dauntless is not as glamorous as it seems and not really, really something that you’d actually want as a reality day in and day out, but it’s a fun answer.”

While the other faction attributes aren’t as glamorous, Shailene Woodley, who plays the lead role of Beatrice aka “Tris,” the young heroine who leaves the Abnegation or Selfless faction for Dauntless, discussed the similarities she had with her character’s selfless nature.

“A lot of who Tris is resonated with me,” she said, “because, when I was her age, maybe 16 or 17, I was raised by two psychologist parents who are the most selfless and beautiful people I’ve ever met. So, compassion and empathy were two things that, as a young child, were engrained into my system, which is such a lovely gift, because I feel like those are two lessons that often don’t get learned till later on in life. As a teenager, my struggle was, how do I balance being empathetic and compassionate to my peers.”

Combining bravery with selflessness is the moral strength of both the book and the movie. As described in our review, the themes presented in the story are important for young people to consider.

Since her character is similar to the young heroine in THE HUNGER GAMES, Shailene sought out Jennifer Lawrence of THE HUNGER GAMES movies for advice as to whether or not she should accept the role of Tris.

“I still have yet to meet Jen (Jennifer Lawrence), which is kind of funny since I’m talking about her so much right now, but yeah, I sent her an email and was kind of curious.

“Jennifer had gone from doing indie films to doing THE HUNGER GAMES, which is a giant film, obviously,” Shailene continued. “I had wondered if it had changed her life in positive ways, if she was happy with her decision. So I asked her, and she said, “yeah, don’t do anything stupid, don’t do drugs, don’t make a sex tape, and don’t go to Whole Foods the day the movie opens. Other than that, you’ll be fine.”

Click here for a full content and worldview analysis of DIVERGENT.

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