Popular Posts

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review DIVERGENT: Deconstruction of the Script by Vanessa Taylor

Vanessa Taylor

Evan Daugherty
Disclosure: I was sent a bootlegged copy of Snow White and the Huntsman of Daugherty's sold script and it is so awful I was embarrassed for him to have written it while I was reading it. Even with Hossein Amini's doctoring of it, it was still filled with cringe worthy lines kept from the original. So I attribute the beauty of the writing in the Divergent script to Vanessa Taylor. It is intelligent, brilliantly so. 

As Foucault says, "When the writing is elegant it means that what is said is important."

Universal and Rupert fired him. (A blessing.)Five writers worked on Snow White. Rupert saved that film, made it beautiful. So much for Daugherty.

Aphoristic:Nietzsche's writing is almost completely aphoristic. It is musical and slips through your critical consciousness. The reader has no defenses. Nietzsche the great rhetorician of his time knew this full well. Ayn Rand, his disciple all her life followed his advice. Stephenie Meyer did, aware or not.

Your writing must be even more so than what you are writing about. - Nietzsche

Divergent is pared down, minimalist, no fluff. So is Dauntless.

Beatrice feels everyone is afraid to volunteer to be First Jumper. So she says, "Me."
And this is the pairing of brave/selflessness that Four will say to her later. She chooses here to be selfless which is also to be brave. And she chooses instead of holding back as she has done so far being last down the stairs, up the ladder, on the train, and jumping across the abyss. Now she will be first.

All of this is conveyed in the images and the one word "ME."

Here's Four as we first see and hear him: 

Our first look here at Four reveals his open and rather surprised face. He has witnessed a 

gift from the sky, from the Heavens miraculously appearing in the net. Like a Silkie from 

the deep. Or Dante's Beatrice: a gift from the Heavens, a Blessing.

Four: What,you were pushed?(quietly)

Beatrice: No. (all breathlessly happy)Thank 

you. (as he helps her down)

Four: What's your name?

Beatrice: B......stuttering

Four: Is it a hard one? 

Beatrice: nodding yes embarrassed

Four: You can pick a new one. But make it good. You only get to  pick once.(emphasis on 

choosing with no reversal)

Beatrice: stuttering saying Tris. My name is Tris.

Four: First jumper - Tris! Welcome to Dauntless.

So quick. The contained surprise that the first 

jumper is a girl, from Abnegation, who 

appears elated rather than frightened by her 

ordeal so far. Four is open faced, nice, 

assertive and non-threatening, non-aggressive. 

The ideal  presentation of the Butlerian 

masculine social construction of gender is performed.

Four has a beautiful face, intelligent and sensitive and sexy. But he is matter-of-fact all 

business here, gently and firmly. No provocation, just a short intimate moment.

People say that the first minutes of any encounter encompass the whole relationship in 

miniature. - ALEX by Pierre Lemaitre (p. 339)

There is quite a bit of subtext in this short and vivid scene:

1. He underestimates her sort of by alluding to the fact he thinks she was pushed.

2. He intuits her dissatisfaction with Beatrice and suggests it is possible for her to change 

her name, become a different person, become Other. He offers her a way to change her 

name with the limiting factor that it is a one shot choice with no return.

4. His welcome is warm and accepting. This is unlike Eric's immediate dislike of her (his 

frozen face) when she volunteers to be first.

5. Through Lacan, Tris rhymes with Chris, short for Christina her first friend. 

Here is Four's account of that first meeting with Beatrice/Tris in Allegiant:

When her body first hit the net, all I registered was a gray blur. I pulled her across it 

and her hand was small, but warm, and then she stood before me, short and thin and 

plain and in all ways unremarkable--except that she had jumped first. The Stiff had 

jumped first.

Even I didn't jump first.

Her eyes were so stern, so insistent.

Beautiful. (Allegiant p. 491)

Here is Tris's account just before she dies.

I choke on a sob as the image of Tobias comes into my mind, of how dark and how still his eyes were, how strong and warm his hand was, when we first stood face to face. (Allegiant p. 475)


Bataille in his The Eye: Her: Which part of me did you fall in love with first? Him: Your eyes of course.

All this in 9 short sentences and the images. Now that is a screenplay folks. 

Four introduces himself to the group as their instructor and says: My name is Four.

Christina: Like the number four.
Four: Exactly like the number four.
Christina: Were one, two and three taken? 
Four: What is your name?
Christina: Christina.
Four: (stepping closer to her face, half smiling)
Four: Well Christina, the first lesson you will learn from me is to keep your mouth shut,  if you want to survive here. Do you understand?
Christina: (nodding yes) 
Four: Good. (stepping back from her)

I will interject here to make a point Baudrillard makes on seduction and provocation. Christina is provocative not seductive. Tris is seductive.

All this is said firmly, assertively, non-threatening in a way that projects that he means what he says. Four's truth - not his candor - is frightening to Christina, the others and establishes Four's character.The difference between truth and candor (ventilating) is revealed for those who want to make this connection.

The Dauntless training here is immediately demonstrated as serious. We are not going to be your friends. It is not "training lite, decaffeinated training" as Zizek might say. 

Four has been written to be performed as the new masculine. He has established a distance between his students and himself. This intensifies the transference and transgression. And the sexual eroticism.

The trainers have no intention to be buddy buddy friendly with the initiates.And this is 

appropriate in a military paradigm.

In Roth's book his relationship with them is all muddied up. Vanessa Taylor has skimmed off the fluff to reveal the essence. And this is what is contributing to the Desire of the YA female/male viewers.The character Four's Excess is perceived as Desire, reading through Lacan and Zizek. The fantasy always present in Desire evaporates when listening to his interviews. Theo James is not Four. In the case of Twilight and Rob Pattinson it did not vanish but leaked across boundaries of screen and real life.

Neil Burger's direction - in screenplay? - will have Four walk into almost every scene. His is a distinct, purposive, masculine walk that is immediately sexy and seductive rather than provocative.If he is in the scene already his face responds to the context of it.His Inscription of the Body is the new masculine: fit, sexy, sensitive, intelligent, and competent in what he has chosen to do. His flipping with the knives is masculine, the way he stands in the train when he lectures them. All on purpose.

The faces: This is the influence of Passolini on Burger. The use of the face to convey emotion, thinking, hidden feelings, vulnerability, etc. Not the way Francis Lawrence used Rob Pattinson's face as porno in Water For Elephants. This is not to say Four's face is not sexy. It is, but there is more to the image than just beauty. And Burger's use of Tris's face is incredible. That young woman has so many different faces. Her face of repose in Abnegation is completely different from her face in repose in Dauntless. The close close-ups reveal her emotions when she doesn't look pretty or beautiful but very messed up. Shai performs Tris as a girl who grew up never having looked at her face in a mirror. Shai is fearless when looking in the lens of the camera.Rob Pattinson always knows how he looks when he looks in the lens as he was a model. Now he can't unknow it. And then there are those times he doesn't give a shit. 

Primitive cultures felt that mirrors were destructive. One should know their face from the way they respond to people and the way people respond to them. 

Theo James knows and early on in the film - it was shot in sequence - I felt uncomfortableness when the camera closed in on him. Especially when he runs at the head of the initiates and is called over and says, 

"What've you got?" and we are shown the Factionless. It is quick and emphasizes his expressed masculinity - the way Four runs -  as well as showing us the Factionless in a group that appears somewhat menacing. Is it because they were once initiates who were dropped into Factionless status? The question hovers silently.

I am not finished deconstructing this script but this will do for now.

No comments: