A Divergent View of Our Energy Future

DIVERGENT 2014, Summit

2014, Summit

I went with my 14-year old daughter to see Divergent (2014). It turns out she wasn’t the only teenage girl there watching the movie, which attracts a similar demographic as Hunger Games (2012), which the blog earlier noted is a coal-themed energy film.

This movie takes place in Chicago at an unspecified date in the future.  And, the movie portrays a mixed view of energy, showing a combination of dystopian and futuristic energy elements. According to the movie’s wiki page, notable parts of the city were covered in “dirt and rust” to make the city look less polished.  And, affirming echoes of other dystopian movies, a lack of energy, especially electricity, is the defining visual element for a life without luxury.

A few other energy components show up in unexpected ways.

When the main character, Beatrice Prior (played by Shailene Woodley), must select the faction with whom she will live for the rest of her life, we see that each faction is represented by a different material: Abnegation (the selfless helpers) is gray stone, Erudite (the intelligentsia) is water, Amity (the kind farmers) is earth, and Candor (the honest brokers and judges) is transparent glass.  But Dauntless, the division of thugs and warriors trained to protect the people, is burning coal. Is coal being represented as a reliable protector, or a mindless bully?

The movie also shows some advanced forms of energy, including building-mounted wind turbines for harnessing urban wind tunnel effects.  And, a leader from the Erudite faction drives a boxy electric car reminiscent of a Rolls Royce.

Energy is used as a dating element (electric cars and wind turbines denote the future), an economic indicator (electricity scarcity denotes hardship), and an index for virtue (coal represents those who fight for a living rather than think).

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