Gattaca film review
Gattaca is a fascinating movie set in the near future, designed to explore the future of genetic manipulation where your genetic makeup determines your future and your stand in their current society. There are two main ‘types’ of people, an ‘Invalid’ and a ‘Valid’, where an Invalid is a person who was conceived naturally, making them ‘genetically inferior’ and susceptible to many genetic diseases. A Valid is someone who has their genetic structure altered to the most effective state, and are considered superior and are offered many possibilities. Through this new technology, a new form of genetic discrimination has arisen.
It is in this time when the protagonist, Vincent Freeman, is born. Because he is of natural birth, he is doomed to be at the lower end of the social hierarchy. He has a younger brother, who is not of natural birth but is conceived by genetic selection.
During his childhood, Vincent is beaten by his younger brother, Anton, in everything because of his genetic inferiority. He longs to be an astronaut but his genetic profile predicts him having a high risk of contracting heart disease so he has nearly no chance of a career in space or any career for that matter.
One day however, he beats Anton in a childhood game called “chicken” and realises that his destiny was not ordained at birth. He leaves home to forge his own path to his dream. To do that, he impersonates a genetic superior, Jerome Eugene Morrow, who has a “valid” genetic profile to dodge DNA screening. He succeeds in becoming a navigator in the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation. He works his way up and is finally accepted as part of a mission to Titan. Unfortunately, the mission director is murdered and the police come in to investigate. They find an eyelash of Vincent’s and he becomes the prime suspect for the murder. Vincent learns of this, freaks out and tries to quit but Jerome tells him that he is so close he should stick to it and hope for the best.
With a significant amount of luck, Vincent dodges several close encounters but is busted by his younger brother, who is one of the policemen. Vincent challenges him to another game of “chicken” to prove that he deserves his spot on the space mission. He beats Vincent again and reveals that he never saved any strength for the swim back and in doing so beat Anton.
Finally, the day of the mission arrives and Vincent is stopped by a last minute urine test. Because he does not have any of Jerome’s urine with him, he is discovered but the doctor lets him go anyway, saying that he knew it was him all the time and his son admires him even though he has a genetic defect which will bar him from ever joining Gattaca.
Vincent proceeds and fulfils his dream. Back at the house, Jerome, having given Vincent enough samples for him to last more than one lifetime, shuts himself in the incinerator and takes his own life.
Genes are segments of the DNA strand that code for a specific protein. Genes are found in strands of DNA.
The genes that we have in our cells, come from our parents. They were given to us when we were conceived in our mother using a sperm cell and an egg cell which both contain 23 chromosomes. These were joined together to form our 46 chromosomes.
Genes determine our characteristics by helping in the manufacture of proteins, because it has the ‘template’ for that characteristic.
However, other factors that can affect our characteristics are the environmental factors, i.e. food and nutrition.
I think that the film raises some good questions and does touch on subjects that are both controversial and open to discussion.
Humans have only just recently learnt how to control and manipulate characteristics of living organisms using genetics. We do this by changing the genetic code in the DNA to suit our purposes. This was a great scientific breakthrough. This opened the doors to many beneficial things to the human race such as helping to scan for genetic defects in newborn babies, engineering bacteria to make medications such as Insulin for us and gene therapy, the “replacing” of cells with defective genes with functional genes. Genetic engineering plants can also help grow more productive, more resilient plants.
However, there are also downsides to this new technology. Because this technology is new, it is expensive, only available to a select few, those rich enough. Therefore, the gap between the rich and the poor would only widen, and the poor would be doomed to their fate not because of what they can do but what they are. Sooner or later, people would be judged by their genetic profile, instead of their abilities, much like in the movie.
Genetically engineering plants to make them grow stronger for better production may in fact turn out to be a double-edged sword. Other natural species may be killed by these genetic “super plants”, drastically changing the ecosystems in our world. There also are biological weapons, created from this knowledge and is very damaging, as the weapon, usually a virus, is usually refined and is resistant to most antibiotics.
In the light of these reasons, I think that genetic engineering should not go forward, because human error will most likely occur and the effects, should it be used wrongly, would be devastating to the world.