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Copy of Themes within Gattaca

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Kendall Brown

on 14 September 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Themes within Gattaca

The burden of perfection
Genetic engineering and the moral/ethical issues surrounding it:
Human frailty vs. inhuman perfection
Oppression and discrimination
Science vs. Religion (or "ethics")
The Burden of Perfection
The idea that everyone has to be perfect to be successful
(Within Gattaca) you're consistently taught from a young age that anything less than 100% is "failure" and this is negative, which becomes emotionally stunting and teaches people that they aren't good enough
Discrimination and Oppression
Examples of discrimination:
Labels - "invalid" - in todays world this means useless
Use of illegal genetic testing in job interviews
God-child vs. Faith birth
Human Frailty vs Inhuman Perfection
Vincent is the best example of human frailty while Jerome is the best example of inhuman perfection
Ironic because Vincent is a stronger character than Jerome and ends up achieving his dream although faced with adversities while Jerome gives up after the first setback
Vincent spends his life trying to hide his frailty
Jerome ends his life as a result of not being able to cope with his imperfection
Science vs Religion
Gattaca is a world in which the pace of scientific discovery has been left unchecked by moralist and ethical debate
Under the clean society is a dark world deteriorating under the simple fact of genetic purity and lack of individuality
Discrimination - Genoism
A new form of discrimination has arisen called GENOISM, discrimination according to ones genetic purity
Vincents' struggle to achieve his dream/Jeromes' success despite attitude
DNA profiles of prospective partners
Vincent not being able to go to kindergarten
World is ruled by science
Tiny individual vs. monster engine of society
Nearly everyone is accepting and passive of their place in society (excluding Vincent)
It's a world where an oppressive system has been created, not by intention but by the simple choices of individuals and their applications of scientific discovery
Visual Metaphors Showing Oppression
Repeated symbols of glass and water which illustrate the invisible walls Vincent is rebelling against e.g. Vincent looking through glass of Gattaca as a janitor
Swimming scenes and Anton as symbol of the society who rejects Vincent
Film Techniques Used
Quotes before film starts introduce us to the topic and make the viewer think about the ramifications of what they are refferring to
"Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?"
Ecclesiates 7:13
"I not only think we will tamper with Mother Nature, I think Mother Nature wants us to
Willard Gay
Portrayal of Science
Science is portrayed through repeated symbols - DNA staircase, opening scene (close ups of hair follicles, toenails etc.)
Dim, blue, sterile lighting continued throughout the film
Architecture is angular and precise (like the modification of DNA)
Costuming - all simple, dull and structured, with tidy hair and are all look similar
Dominant Aspect
We know science is the dominant aspect throughout the film as we repeatedly see symbols representing science - the DNA staircase, the "lab" underneath Jerome and Vincent's house, the profiling done on employees of Gattaca every day and the green and blue lighting used throughout the film. The letters G A T C used are the bases of DNA and are featured in the title of the film as well as most of the characters names
If greed and self-interest gains control of the use of scientific discoveries then the science fiction portrayed in Gattaca could become fact
Science in itself is not evil, but the way it is used can be either beneficial or harmful
Scientific discoveries needs to be guided by ethical concerns rather than just making advances
Film Techniques
Contrast between characters
Vincent vs Jerome or Vincent vs Anton
DNA ladder = stairs
Swimming races = sperm race
"He suffers from a different burden, the burden of perfection"
And in that moment he was not as strong as he thought he was and I was not as weak.
Film Techniques cont.
Dim green filters, all monotonous dull and grey concrete. Very monochromatic
Clothes are all tight and enclosed > Irene has no feminity
Clothes are also all monochromatic - black grey and white
Very 50's, picturesque
Vincent is constantly discriminated against because of his lack of genetic perfection (him being a faith birth) Film techniques that show this are:
Segmentation - Vincent constantly segmented in camera shots; behind bars, behind a screen
In family photo Vincent is seperated from parents and Anton
When he's cleaning Gattaca, we see him through the glass looking in but he is clearly an outsider

Gattaca has the potential to be a utopian world - most people are engineered to be born with little or no disabilities - but it is an example of dystopia. It's a perfect world but only perfect for those who are genetically gifted. There is also a distinct lack of individuality - as though by modifying peoples DNA part of their personality is lost.
Dystopic and Oppressive
Numerous identity checks
Police and detectives all uniformed in grey trench coats and are reminiscent of secret police regimes
Buildings are large, bare and artificial and huge compared to the individual
Surfaces of the world are polished clean and shiny, almost sterile
Full transcript