The Divergent movie is finally in the world, and so here we are again, books in hand, ready to pick out every teeny-tiny little thing that was changed from page to screen. There were a lot of changes in this movie! And also some scenes that did not make the cut. Below is Vulture’s obsessive list, with some thoughts about how these various cuts mattered overall. Please feel free to add your own.
Things That Were Cut Completely
The Dauntless initiate who dies on the first train ride
In the book, several Dauntless initiates have trouble with the first train ride to headquarters — one doesn’t make it on, and another is hanging off the roof. The most tragic, though, is the nameless girl who actually falls to her death before making it to headquarters. None of these people were in the movie.
How much it matters: It’s not like you knew those people, but the train casualties established how dangerous the initiation process is — how dangerous life in this world is in general. Tris feared for her life, and so did the reader. The film doesn’t always maintain that sense of immediate danger.
Edward and the missing eye
Again, the film skimps on the brutal things that happens to other Dauntless initiates; in this case, the vicious de-eyeballing of a guy named Edward.
How much it matters: I thought the movie was extremely violent, but it’s PG-13, and there are those who will say that it wasn’t gruesome or terrifying enough to establish the stakes. Scenes like the missing eyeball are why.
The zip-line enthusiast doesn’t exist at all, which bummed Veronica Roth out, as she told Vulture’s Jennifer Vineyard at the premiere: “I understand why they didn’t have time for him because they wanted to establish a core group, but hopefully he’ll be in the second one. But I was sad.”
How much it matters: It’s hard to miss him specifically, since the film barely spends any time on Tris’s immediate friends. Which, speaking of …
Christina and Will’s relationship
You can see them kind of hanging on to each other at one point, but otherwise this side romance is completely nonexistent (or unacknowledged? Hard to tell).
How much it matters: Maybe the second movie won’t even try to explore Christina’s grief, or how it affects her relationship with Tris — but if it does, then it’s lost some major motivation. And it’s symptomatic of the film’s disinterest in relationships or human connection (beyond Tris and Four’s).
Four says “I love you”
Four gets all mushy at the end of the book and professes his feelings for Tris. None of that happens in the movie.
How much it matters: On the one hand, Four’s emotional accessibility is one of his more appealing characteristics, and the book does a better job of developing his connection with Tris. On the other hand, his tough-dude act is really working in the movie. Like, that is a dreamboat. I’m okay with it for now.
Things That Were Changed
The sexual assault
When Book Tris is attacked by Peter, Drew, and Al, there is a deeply unsettling groping component to it, and you get the feeling that Four is interrupting a sexual assault. The movie’s version purposefully excludes this.
How much it matters: Again, the film evades some of the darkest moments in the book. Veronica Roth has written about how she regrets writing this particular scene because she wasn’t thinking through its implications, and didn’t develop them adequately in later books. So if the films weren’t prepared to do that either, then maybe this is responsible editing.
The Capture the Flag sequence
Instead of paintball guns, the movie has tranquilizer darts, and instead of Christina seizing the flag, Tris gets the honors.
How much it matters: It makes movie-sense that Tris grabs the flag; she is the heroine, and the heroine deserves glory. A more character-obsessed person would point out that Book Tris is not the kind of person who seeks out attention, but this particular scene seems believable to me. It’s a competition. The tranquilizer guns were sort of goofy, though.
Drunk Tobias (or lack thereof)
In the book, Tobais gets wasted and falls all over Tris in the middle of the Dauntless cavern. The movie version is closer to “Hey, you did well today.” [silent stare]
How much it matters: The movie skips over a lot of Dauntless life, which is maybe just as well, since the faction deteriorates pretty quickly. And as established above, I have no problem with a more severe Four (as long as he opens up eventually).
Instead of visiting Tris at Dauntless headquarters on the appointed day, Tris’s mom pops out of nowhere in a loading dock and confronts her about being a Divergent.
How much it matters: You don’t get to meet any of the other parents, but there aren’t a lot of extraneous characters in general, so it’s not much of a loss.
The Janine meeting
Book Janine clearly suspects that Tris is Divergent, and their tête-à-tête at Erudite headquarters is far less warm than the movie’s version.
How much it matters: The hunt for Divergents is condensed in the movie, and that seems like a reasonable edit; it’s easier to explain why Divergence matters once the war has started. A bigger problem is how subdued and obliging Tris seems in this particular scene, and at various times through the movie. Without the first-person monologue, it is harder to get a sense of how uncowed (and sometimes difficult) Tris really is.
Four predicts the war
He gets most of the way there in the book: the friendly relationship between Erudite and Dauntless, the battle plans, Abnegation as the target. But in the movie he explains the whole thing — “They’re gonna use a serum to make us fight!” — in about four seconds.
How much it matters: It’s not as suspenseful, but it sure is efficient. (This could be the whole movie’s tagline.)
Again, the movie fast-forwards considerably; instead of throwing Tris into jail and letting her stew with her fears, the movie stages her execution in broad daylight. Her mother runs in after about twelve seconds.
How much it matters: It doesn’t. Ashley Judd’s entrance is so exciting. Give her another action movie!
The final standoff
Instead of Tris and Four in a room making eyes at each other, you get the whole Erudite leadership! And multiple fights! And one truly awesome knife throw straight into Kate Winslet’s hand. That was great.
How much it matters: The crucial moment — Tris staring into Four’s eyes and repeating “It’s me” until he comes to — is still there, but it’s overwhelmed a bit by the action. Which is the point: This is an action movie, and dramatic knife-throwing trumps introspection. So it goes.