Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Niccol|
|Produced by||Danny DeVito
|Written by||Andrew Niccol|
|Narrated by||Ethan Hawke|
|Music by||Michael Nyman|
|Editing by||Lisa Zeno Churgin|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||106 minutes|
Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, with Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin appearing in supporting roles.
The film presents a biopunk vision of a future society driven by liberal eugenics where potential children are selected through preimplantation genetic diagnosis to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to instantly identify and classify those so created as "valids" while those conceived by traditional means are derisively known as "in-valids". While genetic discrimination is forbidden by law, in practice it is easy to profile a person's genotype resulting in the valids qualifying for professional employment while the in-valids—considered more susceptible to disease, educational dysfunction and shorter lifespans—are relegated to menial jobs.
The movie draws on concerns over reproductive technologies which facilitate eugenics, and the possible consequences of such technological developments for society. It also explores the idea of destiny and the ways in which it can and does govern lives. Characters in Gattaca continually battle both with society and with themselves to find their place in the world and who they are destined to be according to their genes. Gattaca is the name of the space agency in the film. The name is based on the first letters of guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four DNA nitrogenous bases. The film was a 1997 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
In "the not-too-distant future", liberal eugenics is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class. Vincent Freeman is conceived and born without the aid of this technology. He has a high probability of developing mental disorders, is myopic, has a heart defect, and his projected life expectancy is only 30.2 years. His parents initially placed their faith in natural conception and now regret it; Vincent's younger brother, Anton, is conceived with the aid of genetic selection. Anton surpasses his older brother in many aspects including in a game that they call "chicken": both swim out to sea, and the first to give up and swim back to shore is the loser. Anton always wins due to his superior physical stamina. Vincent dreams of a career in space but is constantly reminded of his genetic inferiority. Later as young adults Vincent challenges Anton to the game of chicken. This time it is Vincent who pulls ahead while Anton runs into trouble and begins to drown. Vincent saves him, then leaves home shortly thereafter.
Due to frequent screening, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way he can achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut is to become a "borrowed ladder", a person who impersonates a "valid" with a superior genetic profile. He assumes the identity of Jerome Eugene Morrow, a former swimming star with a genetic profile "second to none", who had been injured in a car accident, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Vincent "buys" Jerome's identity and uses his "valid" DNA in blood, hair, tissue, and urine samples to pass screening. To keep his identity hidden, he must meticulously groom and scrub down daily to remove his own genetic material and then dust himself with Jerome's. With Jerome's genetic profile Vincent gets accepted into the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, the most prestigious spaceflight conglomerate, with a DNA test being the entire interview process. He becomes Gattaca's top celestial navigator and is selected for a manned spaceflight to Saturn's moon Titan. A week before Vincent is to leave on the one-year mission, one of Gattaca's administrators is found bludgeoned to death in his office. Police discover an eyelash of the real Vincent on the premises, making him the prime suspect. A paper cup used by Vincent is also found after he gave it to Caesar the cleaner.
Vincent must evade increasing security measures as his launch date approaches. Simultaneously, he becomes close to one of his co-workers, Irene Cassini. Although she is a "valid", Irene knows she will only ever be picked for lesser missions due to slightly elevated risk of heart failure. Romantically attracted to Vincent, she clandestinely has what she thinks is his DNA analyzed. The results confirm that he is out of her league, leaving her wistful, but Vincent makes it plain that he does not care about her genetics. Jerome (generally known as Eugene) also suffers from the burden of his genetic perfection; when he won only a silver medal in an important competition, he became increasingly depressed. While intoxicated, Jerome confesses that he did not have a car accident, but rather, had attempted suicide by jumping in front of a car, but only paralyzed himself from the waist down.
After numerous close calls, Vincent's identity is revealed to a shocked Irene. Yet Irene comes to see Vincent for who he is and accepts him. The murder investigation abruptly comes to a close with Mission Director Josef under arrest. The director reveals that he murdered the administrator because the victim was trying to cancel the Titan mission. As Vincent appears to be in the clear he is confronted by the youthful chief detective, who is revealed to be Anton. Anton accuses Vincent of fraud and asserts that Vincent is unworthy of his place at Gattaca. Vincent reminds Anton of how he has made it thus far solo and that it was Anton who needed saving before, not himself. Having rationalized the competition he lost, Anton challenges Vincent again. They swim out, where Anton asks Vincent how he beat him before. Vincent explains that he never saved anything for the swim back. Anton turns back first and Vincent, again, must rescue him from drowning.
As the day of the launch arrives, Jerome bids Vincent farewell. He reveals that he has stored enough genetic samples to last Vincent two lifetimes. Overwhelmed and grateful, Vincent thanks Jerome, but Jerome replies that it is he who should be grateful, since Vincent lent Jerome his dreams. Jerome gives Vincent a card but asks him not to open it until he reaches space. As Vincent moves through the Gattaca complex to the launch site, he is stopped for an unexpected last urine test. Vincent has not brought Jerome's fluids as he assumed there would be no more tests. The urine analysis uncovers Vincent's identity. However, the unperturbed Dr. Lamar, who for years has been asking Vincent during physical exams if he ever told Vincent the story of his own son, once again asks and this time goes on to tell it: His son admires Vincent and wants to be an astronaut despite a genetic defect that would rule him out. Lamar resets the test result, and tells Vincent to make his flight.
Jerome climbs inside his home incinerator, puts on his silver medal and lights the fire. The rocket lifts off with Vincent, and he opens the card from Jerome to find no words—just a hair sample. He is saddened to leave, despite never having a place in the world. He muses, "They say every atom in our bodies was once a part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving; maybe I'm going home."
- Ethan Hawke as Vincent Anton Freeman/Jerome Eugene Morrow
- Mason Gamble as young Vincent
- Chad Christ as teenage Vincent
- Uma Thurman as Irene Cassini
- Jude Law as Jerome Eugene Morrow
- Loren Dean as Anton Freeman
- Vincent Nielson as young Anton
- William Lee Scott as teenage Anton
- Gore Vidal as Director Josef
- Xander Berkeley as Dr. Lamar
- Jayne Brook as Marie Freeman
- Elias Koteas as Antonio Freeman
- Maya Rudolph as Delivery nurse
- Blair Underwood as Geneticist
- Ernest Borgnine as Caesar
- Tony Shalhoub as German
- Alan Arkin as Detective Hugo
- Dean Norris as Beat Cop
- Ken Marino as Sequencing technician
- Cynthia Martells as Cavendish
The exteriors (including the roof scene), and some of the interior shots, of the Gattaca complex were filmed at Frank Lloyd Wright's 1960 Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California. The parking lot scenes were shot at the Otis College of Art and Design, distinguished by its punchcard-like windows, located near LAX in Los Angeles. The exterior of Vincent Freeman's house was shot at the CLA Building on the campus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona).
The film borrows many design and thematic ideas from the film noir genre, making the film a notable example of tech noir. The movie uses a swimming treadmill in the opening minutes to punctuate the swimming and futuristic themes. The futuristic turbine cars are based on 1960s car models like Rover P6, Citroën DS19 and Studebaker Avanti, and futuristic buildings represent modern architecture of the 1950s.
Gattaca was released in theaters on October 24, 1997, and opened at number 5 at the box office; trailing I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Devil's Advocate, Kiss the Girls, and Seven Years in Tibet. Over the first weekend the film brought in $4.3 million. It ended its theatrical run with a domestic total of $12.5 million against a reported production budget of $36 million.
Home media 
Gattaca was released on DVD on July 1, 1998, and was also released on Superbit DVD. Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray versions were released on March 11, 2008. Both editions contain a deleted scene featuring historical figures like Einstein, Lincoln, etc., who according to the texts are supposed to be genetically deficient.
Critical reception 
Gattaca has received positive reviews from critics; the film received a "fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes with 82% of the 55 critics cited giving the film a favorable review. The average rating for the film was 7.1/10. On Metacritic the film received "generally favorable reviews" with a score of 64 out of 100. Roger Ebert stated, "This is one of the smartest and most provocative of science fiction films, a thriller with ideas." James Berardinelli praised it for "energy and tautness" and its "thought-provoking script and thematic richness."
Despite critical acclaim, Gattaca was not a box office success but it is said to have crystallized the debate over tampering with human genetics. The film's dystopian depiction of "genoism" has been cited by many bioethicists and laymen in support of their hesitancy about, or opposition to, liberal eugenics and the societal acceptance of the genetic-determinist ideology that may frame it. In a 1997 review of the film for the journal Nature Genetics, molecular biologist Lee M. Silver stated that "Gattaca is a film that all geneticists should see if for no other reason than to understand the perception of our trade held by so many of the public-at-large".
- Astronaut-training programs are entirely justified in attempting to screen out people with heart problems for safety reasons
- In the United States, people are already discriminated against by insurance companies on the basis of their propensities to disease despite the fact that genetic enhancement is not yet available
- Rather than banning genetic testing or genetic enhancement, society needs genetic information privacy laws that allow justified forms of genetic testing and data aggregation, but forbid those that are judged to result in genetic discrimination (such as the U.S. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act signed into law on May 21, 2008). Citizens should then be able to make a complaint to the appropriate authority if they believe they have been discriminated against because of their genotype.
|Academy Awards||Best Art Direction||Jan Roelfs
|Art Directors Guild Award||Excellence in Production Design||Jan Roelfs
|Bogey Awards||Bogey Award||Won|
|Gérardmer Film Festival||Special Jury Prize||Andrew Niccol||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Original Score||Michael Nyman||Nominated|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation||Andrew Niccol||Nominated|
|London Film Critics' Circle Awards||Best Screenwriter of the Year||Andrew Niccol||Won|
|Paris Film Festival||Grand Prix||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Art Direction and Production Design||Jan Roelfs||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Costume||Coleen Atwood||Nominated|
|Best Music||Michael Nyman||Nominated|
|Best Home Video Release||Nominated|
|Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival||Best Motion Picture||Andrew Niccols||Won|
|Best Original Soundtrack||Michael Nyman||Won|
|Soundtrack album by Michael Nyman|
|Released||October 21, 1997|
|Genre||Contemporary classical music, film scores, minimalism|
|Label||Virgin Records America|
|Michael Nyman chronology|
- Track listing
- "The Morrow" – 3:13
- "God's Hands" – 1:42
- "The One Moment" – 1:40
- "Traces" – 1:00
- "The Arrival" – 3:53
- "Becoming Jerome" – 1:06
- "Call Me Eugene" – 1:24
- "A Borrowed Ladder" – 1:47
- "Further and Further" – 2:43
- "Not the Only One" – 2:14
- "Second Morrow" – 2:24
- "Impromptu for 12 Fingers" – 2:55 (from Franz Schubert's "Impromptu in G-flat Major, Op. 90, No. 3")
- "The Crossing" – 1:24
- "It Must Be the Light" – 1:23
- "Only a Matter of Time" – 1:07
- "I Thought You Wanted to Dance" – 1:13
- "Irene's Theme" – 1:09
- "Yourself for the Day" – 2:20
- "Up Stairs" – 2:02
- "Now That You're Here" – 2:44
- "The Truth" – 2:13
- "The Other Side" – 3:44
- "The Departure" – 3:51
- "Irene & the Morrow" – 5:44
Television series 
On October 30, 2009, Variety reported that Sony Pictures was developing a television adaptation of the feature film as a one-hour police procedural set in the future. The show will be written by Gil Grant, who has written for 24 and NCIS.
See also 
- "NEUROETHICS | The Narrative Perspectives". Neuroethics.upenn.edu. Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- "Gattaca — Movie Review". Metro times. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- "Gattaca a Not-So-Perfect Specimen", Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, October 24, 1997, URL retrieved 19th February 2009
- "Review of Gattaca". Challengingdestiny.com. 2004-02-25. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- "Endless Pools in the Press". Endlesspools.com. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- ""Gattaca, 1997": cars, bikes, trucks and other vehicles". IMCDb.org. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- "US Movie Box Office Chart Weekend of October 24, 1997". The Numbers. 1997-10-24. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- "Movie Gattaca - Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- "Amazon.com: Gattaca (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
- "Amazon.com: Gattaca (Superbit Collection) (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- "Amazon.com: Gattaca (Special Edition) (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- "Amazon.com: Gattaca [Blu-ray] (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- "Gattaca (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
- "Gattaca reviews at". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "Gattaca :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 1997-10-24. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- "Review: Gattaca". Reelviews.net. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- Brown, Evan (2007). Gattaca Now! The sequel to the 10-year-old classic science fiction film is in real-life science labs. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-02.
- Darnovsky, Marcy (2008). Are We Headed for a Sci-Fi Dystopia?. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Pope, Marcia; McRoberts, Richard (2003). Cambridge Wizard Student Guide Gattaca. Cambridge University press. ISBN 0-521-53615-4.
- Kirby, D.A. (2000). The New Eugenics in Cinema: Genetic Determinism and Gene Therapy in GATTACA. Science Fiction Studies, 27: 193-215.. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- Silver, Lee M. (1997). Genetics Goes to Hollywood 17 (3). doi:10.1038/ng1197-260. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- Hughes, James (2004). Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-4198-1.
- "Gattaca soundtrack overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- "Gattaca soundtrack". SoundtrackNet, LLC. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
- Schneider, Michael (2009-10-29). "Apostle preps for post-'Rescue' life". www.variety.com. Archived from the original on 2010-01-06.
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- Official website
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- Gattaca at Rotten Tomatoes
- Gattaca at Metacritic
- Gattaca Screenplay
- Genetic Determinism in Gattaca