Gattaca: A Bleak Future of Genetic Determinism and Discrimination

02 April 2023
Gattaca is a science fiction film released in 1997 that portrays a future society where genetic engineering has become the norm, and people are judged based on their DNA.

Gattaca deals with several themes, one of which is the idea of a eugenic society with an authoritarian government. The film's setting is a future society where genetic engineering has become the norm, and people are judged based on their DNA. In this society, genetic profiling and engineering are used to determine one's social status, access to opportunities, and even employment.

One of the central themes in Gattaca is the idea of discrimination and social inequality based on genetics. The society portrayed in the film is deeply stratified, with the genetically-engineered "valids" occupying the most powerful positions in society, while the "in-valids" are relegated to menial jobs and are seen as inferior. This hierarchy is reinforced by an authoritarian government that enforces genetic profiling practices and discriminates against those deemed genetically inferior.

It's a new version of rich v poor, simply based on your DNA and how you were born.

gattaca thurman hawke

The film also explores the idea of personal identity and the consequences of genetic engineering on individuality. The protagonist, Vincent Freeman, is born naturally and is deemed genetically inferior, despite his intelligence and potential. 

He must assume a false identity (Jerome Morrow's) and undergo genetic alteration in order to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut. This struggle highlights the tension between individuality and conformity, and the potential dangers of a society that values genetic perfection over individual merit.

Another significant theme in Gattaca is the ethics of genetic engineering and the potential dangers of a society that places too much emphasis on genetic perfection. The film raises questions about the moral implications of genetic engineering, including issues such as genetic discrimination, loss of diversity, and the potential for abuse by an authoritarian government.

Vincent's journey

Vincent Freeman is a man who was born naturally in a world where genetic engineering is the norm. Due to his natural birth, he is deemed genetically inferior and is thus relegated to a life of menial jobs. However, Vincent has always harbored a dream of becoming an astronaut and traveling to space.

To achieve his dream, Vincent assumes the identity of a genetically superior man named Jerome Morrow, who has been paralyzed in an accident. Vincent buys Jerome's identity, including his genetic material, and undergoes extensive surgery to change his physical appearance, so he can pass as Jerome.

Vincent then applies for a job at Gattaca, a space exploration company, and impresses his superiors with his intelligence and determination. However, Vincent's plans are threatened when a Gattaca mission director is murdered, and Vincent's genetic material is found at the crime scene. With the help of his coworker Irene, Vincent manages to evade detection and continue his work at Gattaca.

Throughout the film, Vincent struggles with his identity and the fear of being discovered. He must also deal with the guilt and ethical implications of assuming another person's identity and lying about his genetic makeup. Despite these challenges, Vincent remains steadfast in his pursuit of his dream and ultimately succeeds in achieving his goal of traveling to space.

Vincent's journey in Gattaca highlights the importance of determination, perseverance, and the pursuit of one's dreams, even in the face of adversity. 

While he succeeds in achieving his goal and fulfilling his lifelong ambition, whether he ultimately wins at life is a matter of interpretation.

What's in a name?

The movie's title Gattaca is a reference to the four chemical bases that make up DNA, which are adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). 

The letters G, A, T, and C are used as a shorthand for the genetic code in the film. The title of the movie combines the first letters of these four bases and represents the idea of genetic code and engineering. The reference to DNA underscores the central role that genetics and genetic engineering play in the society depicted in the film.

Overall, Gattaca presents a dystopian vision of a society where genetic engineering has become the norm, and individual worth is judged solely on one's genetic profile. The film highlights the dangers of a eugenic society with an authoritarian government, and the potential consequences of valuing genetic perfection over individuality and merit.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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