Presentation on theme: "An introduction. Director Andrew Niccol said of the film: "I would hate for anyone to look at my film and think it is advocating that you never tamper."— Presentation transcript:
Director Andrew Niccol said of the film: "I would hate for anyone to look at my film and think it is advocating that you never tamper with genes, because there have been and will be many positive things to come out of this kind of science in terms of curing diseases. But the problem is that blurred line between health and enhancement. How far do you go? Do you consider short-sightedness a disease? Premature balding? Crooked teeth? Where do you draw the line?" (Andrew Niccol) At what point does genetic engineering cross a line? What are your thoughts? Do you think a line is drawn in Gattaca? Gattaca is a world in which the pace of scientific discovery has been left unchecked by moralist and ethical debate. Importantly the film does not condemn science as evil.
In Gattaca reproductive technologies have replaced traditional methods of conception and birth. In Gattaca people are conceived through genetic manipulation. Artificial insemination is used to screen embryos for genetic defects and ensure that the best possible gene composition is achieved. ‘Ten fingers and ten toes, that’s all that matters, Not now.’
Those persons born a ‘God-birth’ whose parents left their destinies up to ‘faith’ are classified as ‘invalids’. Although discrimination is prohibited by law, invalids are rendered second class citizens. Invalid Vincent is afforded access to menial jobs and denied the opportunity to rise above his 30.2 year life expectancy predicted at birth. What does this classification system evoke? What other instances throughout history can you cite when discrimination has occurred in ways which subvert individuals’ liberties? ‘We now have discrimination down to a science’.
Gattaca ultimately rejects the genetic determinism which is at the heart of how the society is organised. In Gattaca we see that chance and other unknown factors play a role in our development as a child and success as an adult What things ensure Vincent’s success? If it is not Vincent’s genetic build that makes him successful then what does? “There is no gene for the human spirit”
“for the genetically superior, success is easier to attain but by no means guaranteed”. The film shows that genes alone do not guarantee a person’s success in life. Many of the film’s most genetically perfect characters are the least successful. Consider Anton, Vincent’s brother who is twice beaten in the chicken race and gains employment in a field usually reserved for ‘invalids’ Eugene, the real Jerome Morrow, who has genetically superior genes only manages a silver medal in the Olympics Both these characters lack the drive, determination and courage for success
Vincent refuses to accept the hand dealt to him. Vincent’s resolve, inner strength, fortitude and strength of mind and spirit are what propel him forward and enable him to succeed where others who are genetically superior to him cannot. ‘Destined’ to be an in-valid but driven to rebel, Vincent’s bravery and determination help in surpass his ‘predetermined’ potential measured at birth. “Mine is already 10,000 beats overdue.”
The falsity of predictive genetics is exposed through Vincent’s rise above his destiny. Vincent represents the triumph of human spirit over a supposedly ‘perfect’, genetically engineered world. Gattaca shows that genetic discrimination, labelling people forever, is misguided and unjust. Niccol condemns the obsession with genetics as something which blinds people to reality. What does Anton’s refusal to share blood tell us about him? What happens after this scene in the film and why is it significant? In what way are Vincent’s limitations his greatest assets? ‘ This is how I did it. I never saved anything for the swim back.’
In addition to heralding the power of the human spirit, Gattaca shows the dangers of totalitarian societies where human rights are subjugated and individuality suppressed The totalitarian nature of this society is chilling. Technology has usurped individual rights and freedom. Every citizen’s genetic blueprint is held on a central police database. Random blood or urine tests in the workplace is commonplace. While random police sweeps terrorise people. Gattaca is critical of regimes which negate a person’s humanity What other regimes can you think of that are totalitarian? What evidence do we have the Gattaca takes inspiration from these societies? “I belonged to a new underclass”.
Gattaca is a perfect world, but only perfect for those who are genetically gifted. The world created by Niccol is really a dystopian one. In what way is Gattaca a dystopia? What other examples of dystopian fiction can you think of? “ nothing that would prohibit someone working in the field of law enforcement, for example …but now there are ‘enough of the right kind of people.”
In proving that genes aren’t the sole determinate of people’s lives, Vincent inspired and changed others. Eugene’s heroic climb up the helix stairway was inspired by the courage and tenacity shown by Vincent in his determination to achieve his goal. Dr Lamar’s comment at the film’s end shows how Vincent’s battle has inspired Lamar’s son to defy his genetic expectations. Even Irene loses some of her passivity and begins to hope ‘ He’s a big fan of yours…Unfortunately my son is not all that they promised. But then, who knows what he could do?’
Lasting Message? What message should we heed about Gattaca’s representation of eugenics? What does it mean to be human? What factors determine our success and happiness in this world? When is rebellion justified? When it is ok to rebuke the systems and organisations that govern us?