“Describe at least one idea that changed your perspective or point of view in the film.”
As is common to all dystopias, the film Gattaca by Andrew Niccol deals with elements of our society that are discomforting and project these into a future where they are followed through to their natural conclusion. Genetic selection is the target for Niccol’s moral tale; and alongside his exploration of where our genetic technology might take us, he has also presented a number of visual motifs that direct our attention back to the early 20th century and its modernism and preoccupation with Eugenics. Arguably, nowhere is the idea that we are not defined by our genetic make-up more obvious than in the scenes in Vincent and Jerome’s house that revolve around their helix staircase. The two men are presented quite literally in relation to a representation of human DNA, forcing us to confront the ideas that Niccol most wants us to
The 1997 film Gattaca by Andrew Niccol is set in a dystopian future where being anything less than genetically perfect causes you to be disadvantaged in life. The film tells us that there are some things that genetics can’t determine. Arguably the most important of these is ambition. At the climax of the film, Jerome, who no longer has the use of his legs after an earlier suicide attempt, is shown dragging himself up a helix staircase to rescue the genetically ‘invalid’ character Vincent from being discovered by the authorities. Many point of view shots are used to reinforce Jerome’s struggle, which, because it’s literally with a helix, symbolises the destructive dominance of genetics in their society. This reinforces the view that apparently benign genetic selection practices could rob human society of the very forces that we value the most.
Ambition can be influenced by genes in the sense that having a disadvantage can quite literally be the stimulus for ambition because a person has to work harder to get where everyone else is.