Gattaca (Summary and Analysis)

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A Film by Andrew Niccol
Summary and Analysis


Exactly five seconds after he came into the world, Vincent Freeman was already considered to be a looser. His first genetic test revealed high probabilities of hyperactivity, sight troubles and serious heart diseases, a life expectancy of 30 years and 2 months and quite low intellectual faculties. At that time, the artificial insemination of test tube babies selected according to their genetic potential had become for many people "the natural way of making children". But Vincent's parents had preferred to let the other nature take its course. Of course they regretted it, and for their next child they went to see a geneticist. A perfect son has been born to them, a son who deserved to be called Anton, like his father. While Vincent was forced by his genetic code and the system to study at home, Anton was taller and better at anything than his elder brother. They used to play at "softy". The game consisted of swimming in the sea as far as possible and being the last to make an about-turn. Vincent was always the softy. But besides his weak health, he had a very strong will. His lifelong dream was to join Gattaca, probably the most prestigious company on earth whose activity is to explore galaxies, and go into space. To achieve his aim, he has not stopped studying during his whole adolescence, despite his father's discouragements. One day, he tells him that, with his health problems, the only opportunity that he could get to see the inside of a spaceship was to do the cleaning in it. In a way, it was true. Gattaca was certainly not about to invest money to train him whereas there were so many other applicants with a better profile. A bit later, the boys played at "softy" again. But that time, Vincent won. For him, it was the moment that made all the rest possible, the moment when he realized that everything was possible. And one night, he left home to never go back there.

He found several works before joining Gattaca, but as his father had told him, as a cleaner. He had never been closer to his dream. Nevertheless at that time, he had never felt farther from it. But still full of will, he did not stop his efforts: intensive trainings, intensive studies and no social life. Thinking he was ready, he applied for a job and obtained an interview. Then he understood that his efforts would never be enough. The company would analyse anything to identify his genetic code: the trace left by a fingerprint, saliva on a glass, anything. This was called genoism and was forbidden but this law was not taken seriously.

Faced to this setback, he adopted the most radical solution. He met a man who introduced him Jerome Morrow. Jerome is a former athlete who was paralyzed after an accident and condemned to move in a wheelchair. He used to be a very good sportsman and had won a silver medal during the world championship. But it was not his only quality. His whole genetic code was perfect. The man's task was to help Vincent to take Jerome's identity. With such a profile, Vincent was to make a promising career in Gattaca. The man provided them all the equipment they needed so that Vincent could join the company and stay there under Jerome's identity, Vincent paid the man and Jerome's rent and Jerome gave his genetic code. Jerome was a bitter character who could not accept his paralysis and who also has difficulties to accept Vincent, the man who was going to become him, steal his identity. But little by little, he understood that there was a real exchange between them. While he was giving Vincent his life, Vincent gave him his dream and brought interest in his gloomy life.

Under Jerome's name and profile, Vincent climbed the rungs of Gattaca's hierarchical ladder very quickly. Since any particle of his body could betray him, he used to brush his skin, his nails and his hair as meticulously as possible, to vacuum his desk and leave Jerome's hair or skin dust instead. He...
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