Director: Andrew Niccol
Composer: Michael Nyman
Actors: Ethan Hawke (Vincent/Jerome), Jude Law (Eugene), Uma Thurman (Irene) Genre: Science fiction
Release date: 1997
The voice-over at the start of the film announces:
“The most unremarkable of events. Jerome Morrow, navigator first class, is about to embark on a one-year manned-mission to Titan, the fourteenth moon of Saturn. A highly prestigious assignment. Although for Jerome, selection was virtually guaranteed at birth. He's blessed with all the gifts required for such an undertaking. A genetic quotient second to none. No, there is truly nothing remarkable about the progress of Jerome Morrow. Except that I am not Jerome Morrow.”
As soon as Vincent is born his blood is tested and it is announced that he has a 99% chance of dying of a heart condition by the time he is 30. From that moment on his prospects are limited by his physical imperfections. Despite this he is determined to join Gattaca Space Academy and take part in space missions. He trains both physically and mentally for the day he can interview for a place. However, he is doomed to fail, as the interview consists only of a DNA sample which will show him to be ‘invalid’, this future world’s term for anyone born other than through IVF. Through sheer determination, and by using Jerome Eugene Morrow’s DNA, Vincent not only joins Gattaca, he is chosen to go on a year long mission around Titan. The film begins when a murder inside Gattaca sets in motion a train of events which threaten all that Vincent (and Jerome) have worked so hard to achieve.
The film opens with a text from the Bible – Ecclesiastes 7:13 "Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?" In the “not too distant future” it would appear than Man has indeed perfected God’s work. This is a world in which a woman can take a swab of her lips to catch the saliva from a man’s kiss in order to have his DNA analyzed to assess his potential as a husband and, presumably, as father of her children; where a pianist has been genetically engineered to have 12 fingers so that he can play pieces of music that can “only be played with twelve fingers”; where police and security checks are carried out by immediate DNA analysis from blood samples or saliva; and where DNA tests are a regular part of everyday life. Vincent, the main character, was conceived by a young couple in love – in the back of a car rather than in a laboratory. He, and those like him, are considered second-class citizens and are called "faith births" or "degenerates" or "invalids". His parents decided to have a second son through "natural birth" as it was called – a process involving careful genetic selection and manipulation. Vincent’s younger brother was therefore good enough to take the father’s name – Anton. Throughout the film, the struggle between the two brothers, with their regular swimming competitions, illustrates the struggle between "faith births" and "natural births". (The brothers swim against each other three times in the film.) No matter how hard he works, Vincent is rejected by schools and then by employers. He says: "My real resume is in my cells. They have discrimination down to a science." In time Vincent becomes a cleaner at Gattaca, a space exploration centre, where he watches the rockets take off and longs to be able to fly one - a dream made impossible by his genes. In order to make the impossible become possible, Vincent "borrows a ladder". He teams up with Jerome Morrow, a competition swimmer with excellent genes, who had broken his back when hit by a car and who now needs money to pay for his excessive drinking. Vincent dyes his hair, has coloured contact lenses fitted, has an operation to lengthen his legs and assumes Jerome’s identity. Each morning Vincent scrubs off all his loose skin and hairs before sticking on his finger tips small patches containing Jerome’s blood and strapping to his legs a bag of...
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