DIVERGENT is the most recent movie to enter the arena of sci-fi adventure movies that have been seen in cinemas recently, THE HUNGER GAMES probably being one of the more successful additions to this growing genre that has young actors in the leading roles. Based upon the novel by Veronica Roth the movie is directed by Neil Burger and is set in a post apocalyptic world that divides its inhabitants into five categories of personality these are Peacefulness, Honesty, Bravery, Selflessness and intelligence. One of the movies central characters Tris, played by Shailene Woodley discovers that she does not fit into any of these categories and thus is a DIVERGENT and is considered a danger to the establishment. The musical score is the work of Tom Holkenborg
or JUNKIE XL. Holkenborg was classically trained when he was a child but later moved into electronic dance music which is a field and area of music that he has excelled at both as a performer and a producer. When you take into account his background it is somewhat surprising that DIVERGENT contains a score that is symphonic and somewhat conventional, in fact the melodies that he has created are at times emotive and filled with style and an overall sound that could at times be likened to that of Georges Delerue
. There are also a fair amount of cues that contain electronic elements and also a handful that could I think easily be re-worked and re-mixed to make dance tunes that would fill many a dance floor. This is a powerful score, a strident work that includes pulsating and booming percussive elements that act as a rhythmic background to energetic strings with brass stabs and guitar rifts that punctuate the proceedings. The score opens with TRIS, which is an overture of sorts because t contains fragments of the score three major themes, the track opens with a lilting and subdued piano that is punctuated and enhanced by the use of guitars and further underlined by strings which all act as an introduction to a wordless female vocal, that becomes the theme that we will associate with Tris, the vocal is by Ellie Goulding, and it is a haunting almost ghostlike sounding performance but at the same time beautiful and affecting given further depth by the use of struck dulcimer.
Gouldng’s talent as a singer songwriter is evident but this is a new direction for her and one that adds much to the atmosphere and overall sound of the score, it gives the soundtrack heart and as the track progresses the composer adds percussion and ups the tempo a little giving the piece an almost rock sound, the composition being modern sounding but at the same time thanks to Goulding’s vocals a highly emotive listening experience. Track number three CHOOSING DAUNTLESS begins with subdued strings and a half heard female vocal that ushers in a more aggressive and up beat piece, percussion taking centre stage, until the music breaks and the female vocal returns overpowering the percussion and also allowing guitars and strings to get in on the act, this break is short lived as the percussive elements return with gusto and drive the cue along at break neck speed. The composer introducing various electronic stabs along the way creating a full throttle high octane no let up cue. Track number 4, CAPTURING THE FLAG is an interesting arrangement of the TRIS theme the composer employing strings to perform the motif that was previously performed by Ellie Goulding, this is a more positive and almost triumphant sounding piece, with guitars again adding punctuation as the track builds and female vocal makes a return at the end of the cue. The score does contain a number of cues that I suppose can be categorised as discordant or un-harmonious, but these too are interesting and inventive. One of my personal favourites from the score is FACTION BEFORE BLOOD, this is a warm and emotion laden piece written for strings, and in many ways evoked Delerue’s rejected theme for PLATOON and Barbers adagio for strings it is rich and full of melody with sliding strings that purvey a sense of sorrow and heartbreak but also hint at romanticism. This style re-merges a few times within the score but is really best heard in the track SACRIFICE it is the same theme but has to it a more pronounced atmosphere of sadness and for me conjured up an atmosphere of solitude add to the strings the distinct vocal performance of Ellie Goulding and this is a heart-breaker of a cue.
DIVERGENT is a soundtrack that I must say I really like; the only thing I fear is that many collectors may miss out on its musical excellence and energetic inventiveness simply because they do not know the composer, well my advice is to get to know him, you never know you may even enjoy it.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light