Good science fiction should make people stop and think about the implications and possible ramifications of advancing technology. Since this is great sci-fi, it shows us a world where eugenics has become the norm, each child engineered to be as perfect as possible. Your entire résumé is your DNA with your whole life and potential mapped out from birth. The writers of Gattaca posit an intriguing question: Is there more to a person than their genetic code? Is the human spirit, the will to succeed, greater than the sum of its parts? Wisely set in “the not too distant future”, this profoundly creative and disturbing movie came out in 1997 when the issue of cloning was a big deal and people were first thinking about the ethics of genetic engineering. It stars three human beings naturally blessed by the genetic lottery; Ethan Hawke, Jude Law and the coolly radiant Uma Thurman. I already loved Hawke from his stellar performance in Before Sunrise but this was the first time I’d seen Jude Law. Both of them play such beautifully conflicted and uniquely damaged characters, showcasing the price of such a theoretical future society. Everything looks good on the surface, a serene existence where everything is ordered and quantified, but there’s a dark side to it with a ruthless caste system based solely on a person’s genetics that determines who succeeds and who is doomed to a life of drudgery with no hope of advancement.
The idea of genetic engineering also looks good at first glance. What parent wouldn’t want the best for their child? Interestingly enough, as part of the marketing campaign for the movie, fake leaflets advertising genetic engineering for children were distributed and thousands of people responded, wanting the service for their child. But if everything is pre-selected and pre-determined with “defective” embryos screened out as unwanted, where is the spark of creativity and the element of chance that can collide to give us, say, Mozart. He was, by Gattaca’s standards, defective but does that mean the world isn’t richer for his having been here even for a short time? How about Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller, Leonardo da Vinci (he had epilepsy), Vincent Van Gogh (mental illness), Thomas Edison and Beethoven, who suffered from loss of hearing, or Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill, both of whom had learning disabilities? Intensely thought-provoking while still being chic and entertaining, this is a spot-on exploration of a timely issue that merits careful consideration. – BETHANY
For more on Gattaca, visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Ethan Hawke as Vincent Anton Freeman. “I belonged to a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the color of your skin. No, we now have discrimination down to a science.” (image courtesy of stephottosstory.weebly.com)
For a price, this man can change your life. (Tony Shalhoub as German)
How would you like to see yourself described thus?
Jerome Morrow (the impossibly handsome Jude Law).
Vincent becomes Jerome – a rather painful process.
From one world to another.
Vincent with Uma Thurman’s Irene Cassini (an appropriate name for working at an aerospace corporation).
Can you spot the metaphor?
I guess micro-management is a constant. (Suddenly your cubicle at work doesn’t look so bad, does it?)
Gattaca’s creepy gym, where Gabrielle Reece appears as a trainer.
Try Gattaca, a new perfume designed to make you more attractive at the cellular level!
Detective Hugo (Alan Arkin) and partner (Loren Dean).
The official trailer for Gattaca:
Photos courtesy of Jersey Films and Columbia Pictures