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“Gattaca”, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, depicts a futuristic world of a cold society, where one’s resume exists in their cells and genes. Although genes play a significant part to a successful life in this world, the path and success of one’s life is not determined solely on DNA as demonstrated by Eugene, Anton and in particular, Vincent who clearly “exceeds his potential”.
Vincent Freeman is cast into society’s redundant section as being an “invalid”, however he overcomes this burden of uselessness, and uses his strong will to drive him forward to achieving his dream of flying to Titan. Vincent is an “invalid” who suffers under the burden of being a “utero” as he is unable to make any progress in his life due to his imperfect genetic make-up. From a young age, he is outcast from society, even by his own father and brother as being different. Antonio explains to Vincent, “…the only way you’ll see the inside of a spaceship is if you’re cleaning it.” Vincent agrees as in this society, it didn’t matter how many times you lied on your resume because “your real resume was in your cells.” He is denied his opportunity of fulfilling his dream of flying to space from a young age and discouraged to pursue his dream. However, this only strengthens Vincent, and as he “resorts to more extreme methods” by “borrowing” the identity of Jerome Morrow, he overcomes the sacrifices and hardships by concentrating on the glory of achieving his dream and in his own mind, proving everyone else wrong. Vincent clearly “exceeds his potential” as he overcomes the imprisonment of his genes, and forges himself a worthy life.
Jerome Eugene Morrow is on the opposite end of the genetic scale as he is a genetically elite athlete. Eugene a “Valid” is almost the perfect human being, in terms of his genes as he “possesses a genetic composition second to none.” Eugene however, distinctly lacks a spirit to his character until he gains the friendship of Vincent. He suffers under a different burden to Vincent, “the burden of perfection”. Eugene could not handle the fact that he came second in his swimming career, “Jerome (Eugene) Morrow was never meant to be one step down on the podium” and it is revealed that he tried to commit suicide. He lacks the unique human spirit – the drive and will power possessed by Vincent to fulfil his life and overcome hurdles. Eugene was given the opportunity to live a fantastic life of fame and glory, however he failed to overcome the stress of failure. This weakness in his character is outlined by his constant references to suicide, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” and his final death through suicide. Clearly, Eugene wasted his opportunity and this shows that genes do not determine everything, as it was Eugene’s choice to fail and surrender.
Anton Freeman, Vincent’s brother, also belongs to the higher class group of the genetically elite. Anton has the genetic resume to choose whatever profession he possibly could, however he chooses to become a detective (hoover), which is not necessarily the greatest profession according to his ability. From a young age, Anton sees himself as being superior to Vincent and thus makes Vincent feel insecure about himself. This is demonstrated from the constant height measurements, where he is clearly taller than Vincent, even from a younger age. Also, in the chicken races, where Anton says, “Are you sure you want to do this, you know you’re going to lose.” When Vincent finally does beat Anton at chicken, Anton cannot understand or come to terms with how he lost to Vincent, which is demonstrated by his continued vain attempts at training in swimming. His choice of becoming a detective is due to the fact that he is always searching for the answer to that question. Despite having the genetic resume to become anything he wants to, Anton finds himself in disbelief, cannot accept that he lost, so he chooses to waste his life finding answers, when he could easily have lived a grand life.
This futuristic society, depicted by Andrew Niccol, shows where science has advanced to a level where genetic modification has surpassed ethical boundaries. Much of life is now pre-determined which has taken the guesswork out of life, leaving a fairly dull society. However what you make of your life is up to the individual, as shown by Eugene, Anton who fail to meet expectations, and Vincent who exceeds his potential. As Vincent says, “there is no gene for fate”, thus life is not fully determined solely on one’s DNA.