‘Divergent’ Trailer: Director Explains Why It ‘All Goes To Hell’

Neil Burger takes MTV News through the trailer frame by heart-pumping frame.

Still reeling from this week’s “Divergent” trailer reveal? Yeah, so are we.

Luckily for us (and you), director Neil Burger stopped by MTV News to talk all things “Divergent,” walking us through the trailer frame by heart-pumping frame.

Shailene Woodley stars as Tris Prior in the action-adventure film, set in a dystopian future and based on Veronica Roth’s best-selling novel of the same name. U.K. import Theo James plays the Dauntless bad boy with a secret, Four, while Kate Winslet brings Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews to loathe-able life.

Below, Burger picks out five key themes from the two-and-a-half-minute trailer. “Divergent” hits theaters on March 21.

Setting the Scene
” ‘Divergent’ takes place 100 years in the future after some kind of war or catastrophe happened, and society’s been reformed into five factions,” Burger says, setting the scene of the film. The cast and crew filmed in Chicago, using real, dilapidated buildings for the exterior shots and only utilizing CGI to turn Lake Michigan into a dried-up marsh.

The Aptitude Test That Changes Everything
As heroine Tris Prior, Shailene Woodley undergoes an aptitude test to determine which faction she belongs in. Burger describes the test as a “controlled nightmare,” pitting the teen against her darkest fears. Until, that is, she discovers the ability to mentally overcome the test.

“What she learns, as they say, is that her results are inconclusive. She doesn’t fit in anywhere and she’s what’s known as Divergent,” Burger says. “She doesn’t understand at this point, she just knows that it’s dangerous.”

Becoming Dauntless
Despite her inconclusive test results, Tris decides to leave the safety of her home faction and attempt to complete a brutal initiation into the Dauntless faction. Her first task?

“The only way they’ll allow you to go into Dauntless is, you have to jump off the ledge of this building through this ragged hole,” Burger says — and that’s after she’s forced to leap on and off of a moving train. Talk about hazing.

The Romance/Bootcamp Begins
Enter: Theo James.

Once Tris finds herself inside the Dauntless compound, she comes face-to-face with her instructor, Four, who will lead the young initiates through a grueling boot camp. Burger likens the experience to “being in the Marines, times 10. They shoot, they fight, they throw knives.”

In one classic scene from the book, Four throws knives at Tris’ head until one finally grazes her ear. “She stands up for a friend, and she’s basically punished by having to stand in front of a target and have Four throw these knives at he,” Burger explains. “And he can’t play it safe, or else he’s gonna give himself away. So he actually ends up cutting her with the knife.”

Cue the romance (and a shirtless scene!). “He takes his shirt off and he shows this intense tattoo that he has, which in a way represents all five personalities and more,” Burger says.

Societal Breakdown
“By the end of the movie everything goes to hell,” Burger says, point blank. As the society attempts to eradicate Divergents, Tris and Four team up to fight “as best they can.” But, Burger says, “it’s almost an impossible situation.”