The film Gattaca explores the possibilities of future technology development, and the way in which these advances would affect society. For example, would a society composed of two distinct social classes, and the inequality between them really be an advance? Those who are not genetically manipulated to so –called perfection in a lab, but naturally conceived, are given the name ‘in-valid’ ‘god children’ or ‘de-gene-erates’ , and are treated as second class. Natural conception in the ‘not too distant future’ is rejected in the society of Gattaca, with genetic manipulation seen as “what has become the natural way”.
Due to the discrimination of in-valids, what would present day’s multiculturalism and racial diversity be in a time such as that of Gattaca? Would the importance of individuality or personal identity be discarded? As Vincent tells the viewer: “Today we have discrimination down to a science”. Gattaca’s plot and character portrayal asks the viewer this, showing us that unique genetic makeup wouldn’t matter- infact, personal qualities would be scrutinised, pushed aside and unwanted.
It is clear that director Andrew Niccol aims to inform the viewer of this through such examples as Irene’s heart defect which doesn’t allow her to pursue her dream, even though she is a valid. Another example is Vincent’s only way to be accepted into society is to lie and assume a valid’s identity. Technology enables Vincent to do so, but infact it is technology that first leads to Vincent’s rejection from his surrounding world, as he was naturally conceived, and therefore is constant suffering under the burden to somehow be equally accepted.
I believe Niccol’s message to the viewer is that in order to truly benefit from the power to change the environment, such as advances in technology giving us the ability to genetically manipulate, we first have to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of our actions to fully understand them. For instance, we must ask ourselves should equality, ambition and individuality be traded for catergorisation in an institutional system with distinction. If we were to live in a future such as that of Gattaca, wouldn’t we lose more than we would gain?
Explain the meaning of the quotes in the pre-exposition sequence. Which of these quotes is best supported by the film text? “Consider God’s handiwork: who can straighten what he hath made crooked? ” – Ecclesiastes 7:11 I feel this quote is the moral to be learnt within the film’s plot, as it asks the viewer ‘why fix what isn’t broken? ’ In the society of Gattaca, wealth determines fate; what parents can afford decides how ‘perfect’ their child will be.
This raises the issue of in-valids’ separation from valids (and the whole surrounding society), and the suffocation of in-valids’ desires. This can be referred to with Vincent, as his longing to journey to space. The social hierarchy and racial differences in Gattaca therefore leave in-valids ultimately no reason to live. For instance, Vincent didn’t have high expectations set on him by his parents as he was an in-valid, but still managed to pursue his dreams- only by following society’s mould (appearing as a valid).
This quote represents the idea that imperfections should be appreciated rather than dismissed, and that nature, despite its flaws is preferable to a genetically engineered existence due to its consequences. The viewer is shown that the importance of individualism in nature is too valuable and complex to be overridden by genetics. I therefore feel that this quote more strongly supports the film’s plot and character portrayal. “I not only think that we will tamper with Mother Nature. I think Mother wants us to. ” – William Gaylin
This quote, contradicting the previous, represents the opposing opinion that perhaps God himself is not perfect, as He created a flawed world, and that having the ability to change it means we should change it. The need to perfect Mother Nature is a temptation, which increases whilst technology continues to make this ability even more obtainable. By showing the viewer what the future may bring, Niccol is hinting that society is being constantly challenged whether to interfere with what has been provided for us even today, and that these early signs may lead to such manipulating in Gattaca along with its consequences.
Surely we should take advantage of technological advances, but will correcting God’s mistakes really result in a more beneficial outcome? This quote is representing what is presented to the viewer directly through the film’s plot and character portrayal, asking the advantages of humans adopting a God-like power to be considered. But due to the “blurred line between health and enhancement” that Niccol informs us of, a constant need to perfect will always be present.