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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie does a number of ingenious and remarkable things : 1. It
makes the extraordinary ( space exploration ) seem completely routine
in a way not accomplished since 2001 A Space Odyssey. But in total
contrast to the latter, instead of achieving this effect through the
vivid portrayal of technology with engineering exactitude, it does it
by showing almost no technology whatsoever. Rather scenes of the
completely anodyne. The "astronauts" wear business suits and work in an
2. It creates a sense of timelessness by using almost featureless sets reminiscent of a classical play and paraphernalia re-cycled from other times ( such as the cars and the back-projection displays ). The feel of the film is in a very positive way reminiscent of Alphaville.
3. It employs completely impractical technical devices in such an effective theatrical way as to render their impracticality irrelevant. For example, it is possible to identify someone by a genetic "fingerprint" generated from a hair follicle ( but not in itself a hair ) or skin, but such traces would not facilitate a break-down of the persons genetic character, as pretended here. These are two different orders of measurement. Indeed, urine, which features centrally in the plot, is of no use on either account, not being a body tissue in any case. Only the blood tests would facilitate both identification and genetic analysis as shown in the story. Yet, in spite of knowing these things, the use of such devices as a plucked hair in the story is made so poetically as to become effectively a perfect metaphor and so beyond criticism on grounds of mere realism. To me, this seems almost unique. To do the wrong, obviously, yet aptly.
4. The plot is so contrived as to convene three parallel stories into convergence: Vincents story, of course. But also the directors story, which is oddly similar ( his life's ambition in the flight of the mission can only be fulfilled by killing the man who would have axed it ). As is that of the son of the biologist mentioned at the end.
5. The movie actually achieves what most dramatic art strives for but fails to do: the story resonates far beyond the limited scope of the dramatic enactment. Vincents dream and the challenges posed by society's prejudices is a story that is eternal and universal. As are other issues brought up: sibling rivalry, the "straight" way to a mediocre life as against the "crooked" yet heroic path toward a greater truth. Most profound is the way in which the paralysed Jerome actually becomes an immortal, historical space-farer Vincent, destroying his mortal self to do so, leaving as his legacy the realisations by the other man of his dreams. This is both incredibly ingenious and thought provoking, creating a mood that lingers long after the credits roll. I doubt that vicariousness has ever before been made so realistic a possibility.
The atmosphere, mood and languid tempo yet with a sense of inevitability is greatly aided by Michael Nyman's score.
This is one of the very few movies in which a narrator is entirely apt and not a mere convenience.
In recent years, sci-fi movies have been primarily popcorn flicks. You
would never see a really thoughtful film along the lines of Planet of
the Apes, 2001, or even Logan's Run. We were given films about Bruce
Willis blowing up an asteroid and movies about an alien fleet trying to
blow up the world. Even Star Wars wasn't an intelligent movie. It was
pure entertainment, but that was all it tried to be. Too many movies
today are popcorn flicks with a moral tacked onto the end of the film.
But every once in while, we find a diamond in the rough. Which is the
case with Gattaca.
Gattaca takes place in the near future. It presents a future that is completely plausible and seems to be strangely familiar. In this future, genetic manipulation has become quite mainstream, leading many parents to choose the perfect traits for their children. These children have perfect features and no trace of birth defects. They are all intelligent and almost perfect. However, they are not the mindless robots coming off of an assembly line that you may picture. The entire idea is completely realistic and plausible.
However, some parents choose not to undergo this procedure, whether due to religious reasons or the inability to afford it. Regardless, these parents sometimes give birth to children with birth defects and other less-than-desired traits. These children are usually given the world's less-than-desirable jobs.
Such is the case with Vincent, our main character. He was born with a heart condition and was expected to die by age thirty. His parents learned their lesson, and when they had a second child, they made sure that he had superior genes. This leads to an unusual sibling rivalry between Vincent and his brother. As a child, Vincent dreams of working with the space program called Gattaca. He has the brain-power to do it, but his genes are holding him back. DNA checks are mandatory for all new recruits.
He continues into his adult life, getting a job as a janitor at Gattaca, which only increases his hunger for space. However, he soon finds a way out. Jerome Morrow is a former swimmer who becomes paralyzed from the waist down. After his accident, he simply fades off of the map. Through an "identity-dealer," Vincent finds that he can alter his appearance and use Jerome's DNA to get a job at Gattaca. In return he will pay Jerome a portion of his salary. So the two begin a life together. Vincent becomes Jerome and gets a job a Gattaca.
I don't want to ruin the entire story, but there are many interesting twists to keep your interest. The film also moves at an incredible pace, making the 101 minutes fly by. There are action scenes, but these are not Michael Bay action scenes by any means. Of course, that isn't a bad thing.
What I am trying to say is that this is an intelligent film. While anyone can enjoy it for its rich story and good performances, those interested in science will be the most interested. The film offers many references to genetics including Jerome's middle name (Eugene is a reference to eugenics, the branch of genetics involving gene manipulation), Jerome's spiral staircase (a DNA strand), and even the films name (letters used to label the nucleotide bases of DNA).
I must complement the film's cinematography. The films color palette is great, containing a lot of rich greens and blues. The look of the film is also great. It is very minimalist and just futuristic enough to keep things in line.
Performances vary from good to great, but everyone does a pretty good job. Ethan Hawke does a great job playing Vincent, but Jude Law steals the show as Jerome. His wit and humor contrasting some heavy drama makes him an unforgettable character. Also noteworthy is Uma Thurman's performance as Vincents uniformist love interest.
I must truly compliment Andrew Niccol. Had he simply written the script, he would deserve recognition. But his directing is spot on. The film is unique, smart, well-acted, and great to look at. Best of all, this is an intelligent movie. It will make you think about many things. If everyone is perfect, than doesn't perfect simply become average?
It is unfortunate that Gattaca did not do so well at the box office back
1997. But is has become sort of a cult film as people begin to rediscover
it on video and DVD. I think it may have something to do with the recent
innovations in genetic engineering and the success of the three main
The first half of the film is quite intense and suspenseful as well as provides a canvas for many ideas on the theme of identity, class society and elitism, fate and destiny and control. Ethan Hawke does a great job as the fraudulent Vincent, and Jude Law is entertaing as the borrowed ladder.
Watch this film when you really feel like thinking after the movie, as the movie has little action.
I think this flick will become a sci fi classic in the years to come and dumb overblown sci fi wannabes such as armageddon and mission to mars will have been forgotten.
"Gattaca" (1997 - 112 minutes) is one of the best scientific fiction movies of the 90 years. Deep, overwhelming and controversial, it was written and directed by Andrew Niccol. Gattaca, the name of a specific DNA strain sequence of the human body, is also the denomination of a space trip megacorporation. The society described in the narrative adopts the genetic manipulation to improve the attributes of each human being. In fact, the people are classified as "valids" [or perfect conceived in laboratory] and "invalids" [conceived by the natural method]. Vincent Freeman [the actor Ethan Hawke] is one of "invalids" having to support his stigma of birth, beyond other imperfections. He has an illness that limits his life to 30 years - in contrast to his younger brother, Anton [Loren Dean], that was designed genetically and is a member of the elite. But Vincent did not accept his destiny. He aims for changing his life and fulfill his dreams, traveling to other planets. To qualify himself as a space pilot, the young one would have to be "perfect" or "valid". As in that society the identity of someone was not confirmed by documents but by their genes, Vincent perceives that he has to turn himself into another person to obtain what he wants. Through a DNA trader, he knows Jerome Eugene Morrow [the actor Jude Law], a superior being that was paralyzed in an accident and was excluded from the society. Using samples of blood, hair, skin and urine of Jerome, Vincent assumes his identity, becoming a navigator. Vincent also falls in love for the pretty Irene [the actress Uma Thurman], his colleague in Gattaca, that does not know his true identity. One week before the space mission, a murder in Gattaca starts an inquiry led for Anton, that is a policeman. Vincent is in a great danger to be discovered. The main message of the film is that there is no genes for the spirit. Extraordinary.
How this movie is not in the top 250 is beyond belief. This was an
amazing movie with wonderful acting, not to mention a wonderful story.
Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman deserve more credit for their roles played
in this movie, as does Jude Law. But how can anyone ignore the story, I
truly believe this to be a warning for the "Not to Distant Future."
Genetic discrimination is truly possible, or, I should say, will be possible within all of our futures. Science is making progress by leaps and bounds, and is doing so at an ever rapid pace. To ignore the warning set forth in this movie would be a travesty.
If you listen closely to the news you can hear the progress, every day, "Science Advances Again," "New Cloning Procedure Tested." These are the headlines of science, buried deep within the newspapers of America, where, by the way, all the interesting news lies.
The sheer tactfulness of how this movie analyzes the future is classy, the colors of the movie are well balanced with the seriousness of the movies tone, and only add more to a movie that seems to have it all. The suits, hair styles and modernistic architecture also add to the movie's brilliance and tone.
This is a clever movie, "GATTACA" as everyone reading this probably knows, is a combination of the first letters of the four amino acids in DNA, as any introductory biology class would teach you, which is also why they show this movie in most Biology classes across America, and it is also where I first saw it.
I can only give my highest rating for GATTACA, it is a great movie, and watching it over and over again only adds to the experience. My official rating is 8.4/10.
The production design of this movie is so perfect it is almost enough to
like this movie already. Every scene looks great and together with a good
cinematography it gives the movie a beautiful appearance. This is a science
fiction movie with ideas instead of mindless action, and for some reason the
look of the complete movie adds to this idea.
The story is set in the near future. Babies can be born the natural way or parents can genetically produce their child and make them as good as flawless. Vincent (Ethan Hawke) is born the natural way and therefore he has less chances than most others. His dream is to go in space but since he is an "In-Valid" as they call it in the movie, he probably never will. Then he finds a way to make his dreams real. A "Valid" person named Jerome (Jude Law) has lost the use of his legs and although he is almost perfect he can't do much without them. Vincent and Jerome become a team. Since every part of the body that contains DNA can betray you, Jerome has to give Vincent his blood samples, urine samples, hair, etc. and Vincent has a chance to enter the space program.
He is selected to go to Titan, one of Saturn's moons, and a person who was against this mission is suddenly murdered. An eyelash is found and it belongs to Vincent, of course, but since not Vincent but Jerome is working there at first he is not a suspect. Will he be discovered? In this way the suspense comes from more than one way. We have the murder case with the detectives (played by Alan Arkin and Loren Dean) trying to solve it, we are not sure whether Vincent has something to do with it, we don't know who suspects what, Vincent can be discovered anytime. He can be discovered by anyone as well, including the girl he is seeing. Her name is Irene (Uma Thurman). The story can sound a little complicated to you, but it definitely is not. Everything is pretty clear to us and although there are some surprises it is all done in a logical way.
Like I said everything looks great. The direction is important for that as well, and the actors find the perfect note to play their parts. Hawke is probably the perfect actor for the leading role here, Thurman does pretty well and Law is the best thing in every scene he is in. The supporting characters including Alan Arkin, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Xander Berkeley and Gore Vidal are also perfectly cast.
A drama without family deaths, a thriller without guns and explosions, a science fiction without aliens, what a relieve.
Gattaca is one of the best science-fiction movie I ever saw. It is almost
perfect in the form. The photography is extremely good. Buildings and
social organisation are just weird enough to feel different but not THAT
different. The music is excellent, as usual from Michael Nyman. And the
actors are ... Well, Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke and Jude Law. Do we need to
comment on that?
Let's now turn to the plot: It is original, interesting, full of suspense and scary. And here is the first scary bit: It is not science-fiction at all. We can already genotype people. I can do it. It just take a little bit more time and material than in the movie. But basically we're there. And the second scary bit is: This is not a movie about discriminating people based on disabilities, as it was often told. It is a movie about discriminating people based on the possibility that they could maybe get disabled in the future! Does it ring a bell to people interacting with insurance companies?
Gattaca is a disturbing vision of what the future may provide. Gattaca
the concept of George Orwell's 1984 and pushes it even further. Not only
big brother watching, but they are genetically engineering babies, and
taking blood and urine samples on a daily basis to segregate the "strong"
from the "weak". Hitler would have been proud of what "this" America has
Gattaca is a visually stunning film. It has a very sterile and sleek look which matches the mechanical future it is trying to present. At times the film itself appears neither black or white, nor in color. It is a hybrid of the two that is very artistic and modern.
Overall, Gattaca is a very good film, that could have been great. At times this film dragged out and left me wanting a little more action. Besides the occasional lull, I still felt strong enough about Gattaca to give it a 7 out of 10 stars.
Science fiction isn't my favourite genre (I'm more of a human dramas, dark comedies fan - or anything that involves more flesh and less steel), but there are some titles of this genre that fascinate me. "Gattaca" is one of them. This is probably the best sci-fi of the 90's, a thoroughly engaging, entertaining and fascinating story about a genetically imperfect man (Ethan Hawke) who assumes the identity of a member of the genetic elite (Jude Law), but lives a nightmare when he becomes the main suspect of a murder. The film is set in a "not-too-distant-future" and although the technology we see is quite advanced, it doesn't rely on special effects to dazzle our eyes (the discreet but stylish art-direction is a feast for the eyes, nonetheless, and Michael Nyman provides a great musical score). This is great storytelling with emotional punch and provocative ideas, and although it's not fast paced enough for the Michael Bay generation, it's not complicated like, say, Kubrick's monumental classic-puzzle "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) or Terry Gilliam's "12 Monkeys" (1995, another great, if not flawed, sci-fi of the 90's) - which means it can be enjoyed by anyone who likes a good story. Quite possibly the most fascinating - and underrated - sci-fi tale of the decade (oh, and Uma Thurman is always a pleasure to watch!). 10/10.
I was intrigued by the cult popularity of this film and the fact that
so many people seem to think this is one of the best films ever made.
Frankly, I struggled to sit through the whole thing and I had to
fast-forward through the ponderous stair-climbing scene.
"Gattaca" is reminiscent of 60s sci-fi horror films with its sterile atmosphere and melancholy characters. It's hard to relate to people with absolutely no joy in their lives. Ironically, in watching the first act of the film a second time, I thought the central character seemed happier in his life as an "in-valid."
Our hero's quest seems a bit far-fetched for the price he has to pay and, for the audience, the outcome seems like a foregone conclusion; lacking the impact of a twist ending in comparable films like the original "Plant of the Apes" or even "Soylent Green."
The subtext of sci-fi horror elements, such as invasive background checks and medical testing by employers as well as discrimination based on genetic attributes don't seem all that horrific because, sadly, they have been widely accepted business practices for some time.
I'm amazed to see so many reviewers comment on the "revelation" that in the future employers will discriminate on genetic perfection rather than traditional prejudices such as race, sex, etc. Numerous studies have confirmed that "good looking" people have better jobs and earn more. Men who are less than 6' tall earn more than shorter men, for example. Employers are often impressed with dubious measures of intelligence like college degrees, grades or standardized test scores.
I was also struck by the obvious incongruity of a world where both physical and mental perfection are prized, yet the demands of the career seem to require neither. How much physical perfection is required to sit at a computer keyboard? The work itself is obviously a white collar clerical job with the computer doing the serious mental work. We know it's clerical work because the filmmaker shows him in a cliché clerical setting: sea of cubicles with employees working like disposable, interchangeable parts in a large machine. A future where the best and brightest have only mindless bookkeeping tasks to challenge them is the real horror in "Gattaca."
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