Gattaca Essay

1122 Words May 7th, 2011 5 Pages
Gattaca examines science, religion, genetic engineering and ethics.

By opening the movie Gattaca with quotations from Willard Gaylin and Ecclesiastes, director Andrew Niccol invites us to ponder the tension between science and religion with regard to the ethics of genetic engineering. This tension is further sustained through the complex relationship of the main protagonists Vincent and Eugene, who must ultimately conquer their own physical limitations in order to find ``God''.

As the titles run, fingernails, hair threads and skin particles fall to the ground in slow motion, giving way to an image of a young man vigorously scrubbing himself.

Along with a disturbing score by Michael Nyman, this obsessive-compulsive behaviour
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As we remain in flashback to where baby Vincent plays with a toy cluster of atoms (similar motifs are repeated throughout the film), we begin to understand the hypocrisy of what this ``brave new world'' has to offer. ``Genoism'' - discrimination on the basis of genetics - is illegal, yet it seems that poor genetic outcomes such as Vincent's prevents insurance cover, which disqualifies him from pre-school - surely an issue that already has some currency in the world we inhabit today.

But although Vincent feels displaced by his genetically superior brother, Anton (note how he walks into the frame just as Vincent tears his own image out of the family snapshot), he is determined to fulfil his dream of space travel.

The initial swimming race where Vincent is beaten by Anton serves as a plot device pre-empting the climax of the film where both brothers, now adults, play ``chicken'' once again. Aerial shots intensify a terrifying sea and, this time, Vincent's victory. The irony is stark as Niccol underlines the central theme of the film - what constitutes a ``valid'' human being? For surely Vincent, an ``invalid'', has just proved that genetics has little influence over sheer determination and grit.

Enter Eugene. Genetically flawless but crippled both physically and emotionally from a suicide attempt (he finished second, not first, in a swimming race), he is continually compared with Vincent, whose genetic profile dictates that he

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