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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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gattaca was not average by any means. I feel I must rate it a five
though, not for being mediocre, but for being excellent in some areas
and utter tripe in others. The premise of this movie is an interesting
one: that genetic engineering will produce a ruling class of post-human
elitists. However, this film is simply too unbelievable to effectively
make any sort of point.
Vincent, played by Ethan Hawke, is a child conceived naturally during a time where that sort of conception is considered passé. Unfortunately for him, all the good jobs require a genetic screening to weed out less-than-perfect candidates, and his dream of becoming an astronaut is made extraordinarily difficult due to his bad genes. In fact, he actually has to hire Jude Law, who has really good genes, to allow him to take blood and tissue samples so he can pretend to have good genes too.
Throughout this movie there are many, many times where the plot was simply too unbelievable to allow me to enjoy this movie. First of all, the sheer number of DNA tests that people in this movie were subjected to was simply over the top. Employees of the center where Vincent worked had to have their fingers pricked constantly. For an agency that's looking to attract the best and the brightest, I can't think of a better way to drive them away. I give blood to the Red Cross every four months, and that finger prick they make everyone endure still drives me crazy. Many nurses have told me that it's the same with just about everyone. In the end, this all turns out to be rather useless for their purposes, as Vincent gets around the DNA tests and the infernal finger-pricking with latex pouches of Jude Law's blood glued onto his fingertips.
Of course that's just a detail, but nevertheless it's a detail that stood out to me. More important is the fact that Vincent doesn't show any signs of being a genetic cripple, save for his thick glasses. Judging by the list of his disorders they rattled off at the beginning, he is not, as you might suspect, a retarded obese midget, but reasonably good-looking, extremely motivated, and very intelligent. One of the points this movie seems to be trying to make is that your genes don't really affect who you are, but clearly they do.
There are some more ridiculous scenes. Vincent claims that despite the genetically determined prediction that he would die young due to coronary problems, his "heart is a thousand beats overdue." Just for kicks I figured out how long it'd take for a heart to beat one thousand times, and it's about 15 minutes. If that were all, I wouldn't be so optimistic. Then there were the spaceships, manned by a staff with impeccably gelled hair wearing suits and ties. Then there was the assumption that Jude Law's character was a failure, despite winning only a silver medal in the Olympics. Considering the sheer number of genetically perfect athletes, I'd say second place is pretty good. Then there were the showers that cleaned themselves with flamethrowers, yet had no safety features to prevent the inevitable.
I could keep listing things, like the way all the DNA tests seemed to be designed so that a determined person could barely beat them, but that would be pointless. It all serves to show that despite this film being an obvious work of science fiction, the science was usually obscured by art and marketability. That's not to say Gattaca isn't worth seeing; it certainly is. It was done very artistically, and there are many things to be appreciated here including the excellent performances by the cast.
Most people agree that there are two types of science fiction: that set in its own universe and that set in ours. Gattaca was clearly meant to be in the latter group. However, a science fiction story set in our universe must abide by the same laws as we do, which is something that this movie did not do. If this were its only fault, I would have rated this film higher, but alas, it was not.
A genetically inferior man (Ethan Hawke) assumes the identity of a
superior one (Jude Law) in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space
With all due respect to "The Matrix", this may be the key science fiction story of the 1990s. It has enough basis in reality to be a good story, but still a big enough divergence to make us think. We are moving closer and closer to "designer babies". Are we going to create anew caste system? Is it morally acceptable to do so?
This is also a story of potential. One character says potential cannot be exceeded. But is he right? We also see potential is no guarantee. Identity is not destiny -- one stray bullet and the promise of the future can be shattered. Ho much of the world can humanity control, and how much is impossible to plan?
"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.
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.
This review is going to be very generic and ponderous. I will possibly
not discuss the specific elements and facts from the movie which can be
read in any well constructed review, rather provide my feelings after
This movie is one which I will not want to forget, but probably will. The simplicity of the narration and the subtle portrayal by the cast is one of the better I have seen in quite some time. Being a sucker for creative science fiction, I have a biased view point, but for a viewer like me (and I do believe that there are many more) this is what Science Fiction should be.
The world is beautifully constructed of the "not so far future" and very believable given the pace of science today, the research on progress and the mindset of the new age society. This plausible world has its set of societal rules and cultural dispositions with a compatible set of beliefs and moralities. The social evolution (transformation) associated with a more technologically advanced society is what wins me over, and Gattaca develops this theme to a beautiful effect.
The protagonist's struggle to escape his definition in this world and his heart pounding journey to achieve this is what riveted me to his story. This narrative provides an interpretation of how our understanding of "survival of the fittest" might shape the world one day and why our human "weaknesses" like disease, frailty and mortality actually give us the traits of dreams, determination and faith. This is perfectly exemplified in the conversation when the benefactor thanks our protagonist for lending him his dreams. That one line has summed up the humanity of limitations that actually makes us dream and want to achieve them rather than lead the dull existence of "privilege and perfection".
I know my vague ramble lacks a coherent structure, but I hope that if you have seen this movie you may be able to find a slightly new lens for thinking about it and the meaning of our lives as well.
One of my favorite movies of all time, this is a movie that everyone
should see at least once in their life. It serves a very important
message, your success only depends on one thing "yourself". It is a
movie about the struggles of one man against a discrimination that is
unseen or unheard of today. This movie is a classic Science Fiction
movie which can be watched and enjoyed by the masses.
The relationship between the characters is perfectly built up and the characters themselves are believable. It brings into question the practice of genetic engineering and shows a world where discrimination is a science. A classic not to be missed.
Gattaca refers to a fictional aerospace company whose space flights the
film's protagonist Vincent (played by Ethan Hawke) dreams of joining.
Unfortunately for him, the film begins with the "natural", i.e.,
old-fashioned, birth of Vincent compared to the genetically engineered
birth of his brother and most of the rest, it appears, of this society
set in the "not too distant future." This society has the technical
knowledge to allow parents to select the genetic components for their
offspring that optimize mental and physical factors, and apparently
most parents pick that route rather than the uncertainty of random
genetic re-combination. Thus, we have a two-tiered society between the
genetically "enriched" and the "natural births", respectively called
"valids" and "in-valids" in the film, and Vincent as an "in-valid" with
a heart condition is relegated to menial jobs rendering his dream of
going into space impossible.
Vincent gets a janitor's job at Gattaca, and the rest of the film is largely driven by his efforts to get on the space flight to Saturn's moon, Titan, by passing himself off as a "valid" by using genetic markers purchased from a "valid". The film ominously depicts how practically everybody is being screened all the time by their genetic markers, e.g., blood, a strand of hair, which renders the individual almost instantly recognizable as a "valid" or "in-valid." Gattaca is a science fiction film that has no weird aliens or deadly space rays, but instead takes an intelligent, thoughtful approach to a scientific issue that may be closer than we think. Some scientists have predicted that perhaps in several decades we might have the two-tiered society envisioned in Gattaca between those with the financial resources to pay for genetically "enriched" children and those who must opt for a random shuffling of the parental genes.
For that matter, this film reminded me of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" in which I re-read a few chapters prompted by seeing Gattica. In Huxley's book all children are genetically designed to fit into five castes. The less numerous but superior Alpha and Beta castes rule over the more numerous but inferior three lower castes who are subjected to chemical interference to promote arrested development in intelligence and physical growth. The allocation of the castes presumably promotes social stability. So we have: (1) Brave New World's genetic determinism which seems to be sort of a centrally planned variety, (2) the genetic determinism feared by current futurists who worry about genetic enrichment being accessible only (perhaps initially) to the rich, making for a caste, not a class, society based on the resulting unequal competition, and (3) Gattica's portrayal of a genetically determined world which shows genetic engineering available to everyone, but with some opting for "natural" children. Of course, this allows the film to celebrate the human spirit and motivation of an "in-valid" as he strives to achieve his ambition, but these personality characteristics, e.g., motivation, risk acceptance, would also be (at least partially) genetically determinable as well in the world envisioned by Gattaca. If these issues intrigue you, or better, worry you, than Gattaca is a film for you.
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