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“Gattaca” by Andrew Niccol Essay (Movie Review)


Gattaca is a futuristic film set in what is dubbed as a ‘not-too-distant future.’ The movie elicits the longstanding debate on the role and place of genetic engineering amongst human beings. Directed by Andrew Niccol, the film is set in California, and it does not take sides on whether genetic engineering is good or bad; on the contrary, the director leaves this aspect open for the audience to decide. This paper reviews the movie, Gattaca, and links it to a humanity lecture on technology and society.

The movie revolves around Vincent, who is born naturally, and thus he is dubbed an ‘invalid’ because the ‘valid’ are born via genetic engineering. According to the standards of the day, Vincent can only live for 30.2 years due to the inherent genetic weaknesses, which are occasioned by his natural birth. Therefore, his parents decide to use genetic engineering to give birth to Anton.

The two brothers are entangled in a swimming competition, and Vincent is the anticipated loser. Vincent can compete fairly, but he loses due to societal stereotypes that he is inferior. Nevertheless, Vincent uncovers the stereotype, challenges Anton to a swimming competition, and he wins it. Actually, Anton drowns, and Vincent comes to his help.

Vincent has a dream of becoming an astronaut, but his genetic makeup cannot allow such an endeavor. Therefore, he fakes a ‘valid’ identity by using different genetic makeup from Jerome, who is paralyzed after trying to commit suicide. However, before his maiden flight, Vincent realizes that he needs one more sample from Jerome.

Unfortunately, Jerome is gone, but Dr. Lamar, the official taking care of the verification procedure, makes an unraveling confession. Apparently, he knows that Vincent has been faking his ‘valid’ status. He adds that his son idolizes Vincent. Dr. Lamar rues that the genetic engineering façade does not deliver what it promised as the ‘valid’ have inherent shortcomings.

As aforementioned, the movie majors on the controversial issue of genetic engineering. A society of genetically engineered individuals will not materialize in the near future, at least not in this century or the next one. Genetic engineering comes with numerous shortcomings, and Niccol highlights this issue in the film. For instance, Anton loses to Vincent in a swimming competition. Anton is a product of genetic engineering, and thus conventionally, he should have more stamina as compared to Vincent.

On the contrary, Vincent appears to be performing better as compared to the ‘valid’. For instance, Irene has a heart condition, which can lead to heart failure anytime. Similarly, Jerome tries to commit suicide after losing a swimming competition, yet he is believed to have the best genetic makeup in the team. In addition, Dr. Lamar notes that genetic engineering is a lie, and he admires Vincent’s natural stamina.

Therefore, given the many inherent shortcomings associated with genetic engineering, the technology will not overtake natural conception and delivery in the near future. However, if it happens, perhaps everything else will be genetically modified. For instance, people will have flying cars that use oxygen as fuel. In addition, people might have living clothes, which cannot wear out with time.

However, society will be mean, and those that cannot show excellent survival skills will be subjected to death because giving birth will not be a problem. Technology seeks to have the best, and thus individuals with undesirable character traits will be eliminated, or be subjected to the discrimination that Vincent faces in the film.

The society will be chaotic, as capitalists will definitely own the technology, and they will be competing with each other to produce a superhuman being. In short, humanity will perish, as human beings become creators. The movie ends negatively with Jerome committing suicide and the controversy surrounding the Gattaca rocket mission, which leads to the murder of one of its directors.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""Gattaca" by Andrew Niccol." April 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gattaca-by-andrew-niccol/.

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