The Divine Order
Using the microcosm of a tiny Swiss village to follow the unfolding of women’s liberation across the whole country, The Divine Order provides laughs, tears and ideas of quite how problematic peer pressure can be to social change.
Despite the summer of love, the invention of birth control pills and a feminist revolution throughout most of the Western world, Switzerland remained in a pocket of ignorance – denying women the vote and allowing men to take full legal control of their lives all the way up until 1971. Although the entire nation is locked in a battle for equality, the film chooses to focus on one tiny village, allowing it to explore several ideas specific to the setting: the amplification of peer pressure in a small group, how the monopolisation of work and business can propagate political views, and how voter anonymity is effected in a town where everybody knows who you are.
The setting itself is beautiful, a backdrop of alpine mountains, grass shoots poking through the snow, small farmsteads spread out across the countryside. There is something apt about this location too; the thawing snow seems to suggest a change for new life and new growth, and the isolated dwellings are perfect homes for a group of people who always feel alone – even in their own marriages.
There are a few humorous moments dotted here and there – the village elder’s awkward nervousness during a sexual awakening workshop, a young boy walking in after a particularly vicious argument and innocently asking “What is an orgasm?” – but the overriding feel of the piece is one of frustration. Frustration at a society so set in their ways, frustration at women fighting against their own emancipation, frustration at the request for one’s husband and children to do their own washing up being greeted with blank faces and the phrase “But… we’re boys?”.
Funny, frustrating and beautiful, this is a film that – despite being set in a remote Swiss village in the early 70s – still has a lot of significance in our times. The idea of the pressure to conform and the public norm is still a threat to true democracy, and the attitude of several men in The Divine Order is one that is still prevalent today. However, if this movie shows us anything, it’s that these things are worth the fight, whatever the cost.
The Divine Order is released in select cinemas on 8th March 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Divine Order here: