While at the Divergent premiere in London’s Leicester Square, I had the chance to chat with the film’s director, Neil Burger. The intimacy scene was changed quite a bit in the film adaptation – in Veronica Roth’s novel, it’s very much a fear of intimacy, but in the movie this fear was skewed somewhat towards a fear of sexual assault. It’s certainly much more violent than it is in the book, and since Tris really takes command of the situation, it’s become empowering to women and spawned many positive articles across the internet. Reporters here at Page to Premiere were somewhat conflicted about the change since it made it seem like the scene was Tris being afraid of being raped by Four, but that’s not actually what it was in the book. Neil Burger discussed how this change tied in to Beatrice Prior’s story, and why this scene is an important one to have on film.
In the book Tris’ fear simulation with Four is quite intimate, and then in the film it’s quite forced. However, she adamantly says ‘no.’ Women found this scene quite empowering, even though it’s a subtle difference from the source material.
NEIL BURGER: Yeah! What’s interesting is that some people found it really empowering and they loved it, and then other of people sort of objected to it and others felt like they didn’t know what to think of it. I think the important thing to remember is that Tris keeps control, you know what I mean? She maintains control of her life, of her body, of her choices, and I think that’s what that scene is about. It’s not about rape, it’s about somebody keeping control and I think that’s an empowering thing. Taking control is the main message.