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Thursday February 22nd 2024

Insurgent | 2015

Insurgent filming location, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Insurgent location: the Erudite headquarters: High Museum of Art, Peachtree Street, Atlanta | Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia / Chris Yunker

A mere five days after the events of Divergent and Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is blaming the destruction of the Abnegation village on Divergents. Not only that, she’s come into possession of a gizmo which will unlock some mighty secret. Unfortunately for her, this can only be unlocked by a Divergent.

The story continues in a ring-fenced, post-apocalyptic Chicago but competition to attract film makers (and the attendant economic benefits) is fierce and, apart from establishing shots, Atlanta, Georgia, snaffled the production, which was based at the Screen Gems Studios Atlanta, 175 Lakewood Way.

Atlanta seems to be on a roll, having become home to the Hunger Games franchise from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire onwards and, though you would have a hard time recognising it, standing in for Los Angeles in much of Fast And Furious 7.

The peacefully bucolic Amity settlement where Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her fellow fugitives find temporary shelter courtesy of Johanna (Octavia Spencer), was a set built on Serenbe Farms, an organic farm nestled in the sustainable Serenbe community, 8457 Atlanta Newnan Road, Chattahoochee Hills, southwest of Atlanta.

The stables already existed, but the ‘beehive’ dome and even the remnants of a collapsed freeway were built for the production.

It’s not long before Eric (Jai Courtney) and Max (Mekhi Phifer) and their cohorts descend on the community. The self-interested Peter (Miles Teller) is quick to betray Tris and co., obliging them to make a run for it and leap aboard a passing train (again, specially designed for the film).

Scenic shots for the rail journey to the centre of ‘Chicago’ were filmed on pastureland on Roscoe Road in Coweta, near the Fulton County line.

The rail wagons turn out to be jammed with the Factionless who, after an initial ruckus, take the outlaws to the huge industrial space they’ve taken over as their living space, ruled over by – surprise! – Evelyn (Naomi Watts), Four’s supposedly dead mom.

Discovering where the rest of the loyal Dauntless are hiding out, Tris and Four (Theo James) set out to find the Candor faction, with Caleb (Ansel Elgort) dropping out to return to Abnegation.

The Candor, too, are distrustful at first until being won over by Tris and Four’s willingness to be subjected to truth serum.

The entrance to the Candor hi-rise is the Georgia Archives Building, 5800 Jonesboro Road, in Morrow, south of Atlanta, but the top of the building is back in downtown.

The office of Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) is on the top floor of AmericasMart, 240 Peachtree St NE, downtown Atlanta. It’s also on the roof of AmericasMart that the attack on Candor begins, with stuntmen ziplining across Peachtree Street from the Peachtree Center. By the way, the Marriott Marquis Hotel, part of the Center, provided the victors’ living quarters in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The spaceship-like dome you can see in the background is the restaurant atop the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

In the book, the Candor inhabit Chicago’s enormous Merchandise Mart on the Chicago Riverfront. Now, inevitably, converted into condos, you can see the real Merchandise Mart as the ‘Hudsucker Building’ in Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Hudsucker Proxy.

Peter, having taken up with the Erudite, reveals Tris’s fatal weakness to Jeanine, who is quick to exploit her humanity and unselfishness.

To avoid any more loss of life, Tris steals away from her friends to turn herself in to the Erudite.

The city of Chicago was clearly a good sport about the production moving to Atlanta, enough to cooperate with the complex task of arranging all the city’s bridges to be raised simultaneously for the shot of Tris walking along the dry riverbed. No, they didn’t really go as far as draining the river – that bit was CGI.

Filming in a different city required finding a new HQ for the Erudite, and it’s one film fans might recognise.

The dazzlingly white, sterile nerve centre of the elite is the High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree Street NE, in the Ansley Park area, north of downtown Atlanta. Designed by Richard Meier in 1983, the porcelain-enameled building, housing over 11,000 pieces of art, its towering atrium soars to four interior levels.

Did you recognise it as the hi-tech prison in which the first screen Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox) was incarcerated in Michael Mann’s 1986 Manhunter?