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Another Dystopian Film Adaptation: Divergent

Divergent

Photo Credit: Courtney Briscoe

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Courtney Briscoe
Courtney Briscoe, Writer
March 25, 2014
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Friday, March 21st, the dystopian film Divergent, based on the novel of the same name by author Veronica Roth, premiered in theaters. Divergent is one of three books that follow in the footsteps of The Hunger Games trilogy: a young woman rises against the oppressive society she is born into, making new allies and enemies along the way.

A First-Year Seminar that studied both of these examples of dystopian literature, among others, was offered in the fall 2012 semester. The course was called “May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor” and was taught by Dr. Maria Vandergriff-Avery, Chair of the Catawba College Department of Sociology. A few students who took the course went together to see the film and had different opinions of how it turned out.

Heather Boyles, a sophomore in the Catawba College Honor’s Program, was not quite convinced by the acting, except for the depiction of the love interest, Four, played by Theo James who she thought was “incredibly sexy” and made her feel the emotions he was portraying. She found the soundtrack to be satisfying as well. One aspect of the film (and those like it) that she thought was really important was how it was an exaggeration of the way society is today, always putting labels on people.

Accompanying Boyles was Resident Assistant Caitlin Billings. Billings was not as impressed by the soundtrack, but said, “I appreciated the way they kept the integrity of the book but enhanced the plot by intensifying a few of the scenes.” One of the scenes she mentioned specifically was one involving attempted sexual assault. It was shocking to watch in a film aimed towards preteens, but she found it refreshing to see the heroine portrayed as strong enough to fight back.

Daniel Mowery, a sophomore who did not partake in the course and had not read the books before seeing the film, enjoyed it, but felt that a lot of the film’s science was too vague or left unexplained completely.

When it comes to film adaptations, there are always going to be those who prefer the book to the film, but both mediums tend to aim to get a similar point across. The trend of dystopian novels and films will continue over the next few years and courses like “May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor” are meant to make us think about the reasons they are becoming a trend and what that says about our society today.

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