It’s finally here! Divergent is due in theaters on Friday, March 21 and while the movie certainly stands on its own, there are a few elements of this world worth learning or revisiting. Here is everything you need to know to experience Divergent to the fullest.
By Perri Nemiroff
The State of the World
Well into the future, long after an unnamed disaster, Chicago is in ruins. The large majority of the city is crumbling save for certain buildings in the downtown region. The tallest of them all, The Hub, was formerly the Sears (or Willis) Tower.
Along with the rebuilding of the city came the construction of an enormous chain-link fence adorned with barbed wire that surrounds the city. The fence is guarded 24/7, but, as Tris (Shailene Woodley) notes, “From what, I don’t know.” As far as she can see, all that lies beyond the fence are some dead trees.
The Five Factions
The citizens of Chicago are divided into five factions based on their values: Abnegation (selfless), Dauntless (brave), Erudite (intelligent), Candor (honest) and Amity (peaceful). Abnegation leads the government; Dauntless protect the city; Erudite become teachers, doctors and scientists; Candor specializes in law and Amity maintains the farms and food supply.
The factionless are essentially homeless, because either they're unable to complete initiation or they choose to not join. The factionless are twice the size of all of Dauntless.
A 50-person council made up solely of Abnegation members (who are considered incorruptible) rules Chicago. Tris’ father, Andrew Prior (Tony Goldwyn), is a member and so is his coworker, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson).
Abnegation vs. Erudite
Power-hungry Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) wants to take control of the government from Abnegation. In an effort to spoil Abnegation’s reputation, Jeanine spreads a rumor that Marcus abused his own child, causing him to leave his family and transfer from Abnegation.
Erudite specializes in making drinkable and injectable serums for a variety of purposes. Candor uses a truth serum for the Aptitude Test, Dauntless us another one to create the "fear landscape" to work on overcoming fears. Some of these have devastating effects.
The Aptitude Test
Every 16 year old must undergo an Aptitude Test that determines which faction they belong to. A serum induces a simulation program that shows how the test taker responds to the simulated challenges, thus determining their faction.
What Is "Divergent"?
Each stage of the test is designed to eliminate at least one faction, but Tris tests positive for Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless. This is called Divergent and considered a threat to society. She chooses Dauntless.
The Choosing Ceremony
Each teen must publicly declare their chosen faction—either the one they were born into or the one determined by the Aptitude Test. They cut their hands and blood trickles onto the desired faction’s item – stones for Abnegation, water for Erudite, earth for Amity, burning coals for Dauntless and glass for Candor.
It's Their Choice
It’s important to highlight one key difference between The Hunger Games and Divergent – in this world, the teens are well aware of what it means to be Dauntless. When someone commits to that faction, they are essentially choosing a life of combat and violence. They’re not being forced into it like those who are selected to compete in the Hunger Games.
Choosing a faction doesn't necessarily mean you get in. First, you must complete an initiation process (and Dauntless has a particularly rigorous one). In the end, the lowest ranking initiates will be cut and rendered factionless.
The first stage of Dauntless initiation is physical, but the second is all mental. You take a swig of serum, conk out, come to, and then work through your worst nightmares while the Dauntless leaders assess your performance.
Our heroine's class includes Christina, Al, Molly and Peter, (Zoe Kravitz, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold and Miles Teller) all originally from Candor, and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) from Erudite.
Upon arriving in Chicago, Kravitz spearheaded a bonding effort in real life by taking the group to an Erykah Badu concert. Madsen recalled, “No one really knew who each other were, but at the end of the night … everyone was into each other.”
The Stars' Fear Landscapes
While on the film’s Chicago set back in May of 2013, Kravitz said his would include snakes and insects, while Madsen said, “I want to say lions just attacking me, bugs biting me, stuff that would physically hurt probably.” He laughed and added, “My mom yelling.”
The Dauntless Fighting Style
Stunt coordinator Garrett Warren incorporated the hammer fist, a technique used in MMA to avoid injury to the bones in your hand. Assuming the Dauntless would have developed combat techniques with safety and endurance in mind, the hammer fist made for a very logical inclusion.
Even though leader Four (Theo James) does have a tendency to take it easy on Tris, it’s Dauntless policy to rank all initiates as equals. At one point, Tris is required to go head to head with Peter.
Tris and Four’s relationship is a work in progress. As Woodley explained, “It’s not one of those teenage dramatic relationships where it’s love at first sight and she’s swooning over him and he’s there with her and then he withdraws and she has to chase him.” James added, “He is trying to maintain some kind of authority and she’s discovering herself so they’re kind of back and forth.”
When Is the Rest of the Trilogy Coming?
You've probably heard it's the first in a trilogy. Insurgent will go into production in May with a tentative release date of March 2015. Robert Schwentke takes over directing from Neil Burger on both Insurgent and the final movie, Allegiant, tentatively set for March 2016.