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“Gattaca” by Andrew Niccol

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Set in the not-to-distant future, the film “Gattaca” gives us a chilling yet eye opening glimpse of life bound by DNA. Children are perfected by genetic manipulation before birth and then born into a prejudiced society where DNA determines your social standing. The director, Andrew Niccol successfully expresses a bold warning about tampering with nature through his epic cinematography.

The film Gattaca offers a warning about ‘tampering with nature’; it portrays the prejudices of life ruled by genetics and warns about a dysfunctional society. Underneath the layers of glamour and success handed to those who have been genetically modified lies another world, of in-valid citizens. Their genetic make-up suggests they are worthy of little more than cleaning windows. It is through the eyes of these in-valids that we are offered a warning about ‘tampering with nature’. In the opening sequence of Gattaca we are shown the quote, “I not only think that we will tamper with Mother Nature, I think Mother Nature wants us to.”

This theme runs throughout the entire film. The human obsession with perfection rules society causing all kinds of struggles. Vincent’s story was an outstanding tale of one mans fight against science. Through Vincent’s story the director, Andrew Niccol conveys a message to viewers about to kind of complexes science can burden us with. As humans continue to put more emphasise on the attractive, athletic and intelligent by rewarding them with riches, positions of power and responsibility genetic engineering becomes more of a reality. The film successfully puts across a warning, illustrating that even perfection has its flaws.

Vincent was naturally conceived and brought into the world, his future as an in-valid was certain from minutes after his birth. He grew up with his genetically perfect brother, Anton, and was brought up under the impression he was chronically ill. He expected to live only until he was 30. With no life expectations and a lack of encouragement Vincent still managed to grow up with enthusiasm and determination. A concept genetic engineering had not yet conquered. His underlying passion for the planets offered him an escape from the discrimination that plagued society and a goal, which he saw as being achievable. He broke away from his family ties as a teenager to pursue a life amongst the planets. At the beginning of the film Vincent says, ‘We now have discrimination down to a science’. For Vincent to reach his goal he must fight this science of discrimination.

He swaps his identity with a retired and genetically superior athlete. He is immediately accepted into Gattaca, and begins his life as a fake. When a mission director at Gattaca is murdered Vincent is forced to panic. Gattaca is becomes infested with detectives, and Vincent must tread carefully to protect his identity. Vincent’s passion and determination is evident from the beginning of the film. The viewer can easily interpret his negative attitude towards life, and become involved in the emotions of discrimination but his strength and fighting determination offers an uplifting escape from the pessimistic traits of society. Genetic engineering were the cause and the solution to Vincent’s problems. He wore the disadvantage of being genetically imperfect, but Eugene helped him achieve his life goal. This was only made possible as Eugene had been genetically engineered.

Eugene and Anton both had similar genetic makeup; they are born into the world free of fault. They belonged to an elite class in society that had been genetically engineered to eliminate imperfections. In the film, Eugene expresses his distress over his inability to fail. He says, ‘what makes you think you can beat me?’ With a near-flawless genetic makeup Eugene feels that failure is not an option. In Eugene’s early years he had promising and bright career as an Olympic swimmer. He trained enthusiastically and pushed himself to his limits, but he was always one step away from being a gold medallist. Through his eyes, this was failure. This failure overwhelmed his life so much the extent that he paralysed himself. Eugene displayed negative and cynical qualities. Eugene’s attitude to life is a result of a society breeding perfection. This message carries a warning and is effectively portrayed in the film by the director Andrew Niccol. He illustrated the complexes of personalities driven by the burning desire to be better, rather than the determination to achieve a personal best.

The warning about ‘tampering with nature’ is clearly expressed throughout the entire film. The kinds of idealistic human traits promoted by the media today are driving desire for excellence. The movie begs unsettling question about how far genetic engineering will progress. How far is too far?

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