Gattaca

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Gattaca
Gataca Movie Poster B.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrew Niccol
Produced by Danny DeVito
Michael Shamberg
Stacey Sher
Gail Lyon
Written by Andrew Niccol
Starring Ethan Hawke
Uma Thurman
Narrated by Ethan Hawke
Music by Michael Nyman
Cinematography Slawomir Idziak
Edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin
Production
  company
Jersey Films
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 24, 1997 (1997-10-24)
Running time 106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $36 million
Box office $12,532,777

Gattaca is a 1997 American 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.[1] The film presents a biopunk vision of a future society driven by eugenics where potential children are conceived through genetic manipulation to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents.[2] The film centers on Vincent Freeman, played by Hawke, who was conceived outside the eugenics program and struggles to overcome genetic discrimination to realize his dream of traveling into space.

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.

The film's title is based on the first letters of guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four nucleobases of DNA.[3] It was a 1997 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Plot[edit]

In "the not-too-distant future", eugenics (in the form of conceiving "improved" children by genetic manipulation) is common, and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to instantly identify and classify those so created as "valids" while those conceived by traditional means and more susceptible to genetic disorders are derisively known as "in-valids". Genetic discrimination is forbidden by law, but in practice genotype profiling is used to identify valids to qualify for professional employment while in-valids are relegated to menial jobs.

Vincent Freeman is conceived naturally without the aid of genetic selection, and immediately after birth, his genetics indicate a high probability of several disorders and an estimated life span of 30.2 years. His parents, regretting their decision, use genetic selection to give birth to their next child Anton who is genetically superior to Vincent. The two brothers play a game of "chicken" by swimming out to sea with the first one giving up and returning to shore determined the loser, which Vincent always loses. Vincent dreams of a career in space travel but is reminded of his genetic inferiority. One day, Vincent challenges Anton to a game of chicken and bests him before Anton starts to drown. Vincent saves Anton and then leaves home on his own.

Vincent works as an in-valid, cleaning office spaces including that of Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, a space-flight conglomerate. He finds the opportunity to be a "borrowed ladder", posing as a valid by using genetic hair, skin, blood and urine samples from a donor, Jerome Eugene Morrow, a former swimming star now paralyzed after a car accident.[4] With Jerome's "second to none" genetic makeup, Vincent gains employment at Gattaca, and is assigned to be navigator for an upcoming trip to Saturn's moon Titan. To keep his identity hidden, Vincent must meticulously groom and scrub down daily to remove his own genetic material, and pass daily DNA scanning and frequent urine tests using Jerome's samples.

Gattaca becomes embroiled in controversy when one of its administrators is murdered a week before the planned flight. The police find a fallen eyelash of Vincent's at the scene. An investigation is launched to find the murderer, Vincent being the top suspect. Through this, Vincent becomes close to a co-worker, Irene Cassini. Though a valid, Irene is aware that her higher risk of heart failure will prevent her from joining a Gattaca mission. Vincent also learns more about Jerome, and discovers that his paralysis is by his own hand; after coming in second place in a swim meet, Jerome became depressed and threw himself in front of a car to attempt suicide.

Vincent is able to avoid scrutiny from the investigation, and soon it is revealed that Gattaca's mission director was the killer, as the administrator was threatening to pull the mission. Vincent learns the identity of the detective that closed the case, his brother Anton, who is aware of Vincent's presence. Anton warns Vincent what he is doing is illegal, but Vincent asserts he has gotten to this position on his own, and did not need help as Anton did the last time they played chicken. Anton challenges Vincent to one more game of chicken. As the two swim out in the dead of night, Anton is surprised at Vincent's stamina, which he claims is because he never saved any energy for the swim back. Anton turns back and starts to drown, but Vincent rescues him and swims them both back to shore safely using celestial navigation.

The day of the launch arrives. Jerome reveals that he has stored enough DNA samples for Vincent to last many more years upon his return and gives him an envelope to open once in flight. After saying his goodbyes to Irene, he prepares to board but discovers there is one final genetic test before he can board, and he currently lacks any of Jerome's samples. He is surprised when Lamar reveals that he has been aware that Vincent has been posing as a valid, but admits that Vincent has set a good example for his son, and wipes this information from the test, passing Vincent as a valid. As the rocket launches, Jerome dons his swimming medal and burns himself in his home's incinerator; Vincent opens the note from Jerome to find only a lock of Jerome's hair attached to it. Vincent muses on this, stating "They say every atom in our bodies was once a part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving; maybe I'm going home."

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

CLA Building complex

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.[5] 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). Other exterior shots were filmed at the bottom of the spillway of the Sepulveda Dam and outside the The Forum in Inglewood. The solar power plant mirrors sequence was filmed at the Kramer Junction Solar Electric Generating Station.

Design[edit]

The movie uses a swimming treadmill in the opening minutes to punctuate the swimming and futuristic themes.[6] The futuristic turbine cars are based on 1960s car models like Rover P6, Citroën DS19 and Studebaker Avanti,[7] and futuristic buildings represent modern architecture of the 1950s.

Release[edit]

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.[8] 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.[9]

Home media[edit]

Gattaca was released on DVD on July 1, 1998,[10] and was also released on Superbit DVD.[11] Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray versions were released on March 11, 2008.[12][13] Both editions contain a deleted scene featuring historical figures like Einstein, Lincoln, etc., who according to the texts are supposed to be genetically deficient.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Gattaca received positive reviews from critics; the film received an 82% "fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, based on 55 reviews, with a rating average of 7.1/10. The critical consensus states that "Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science."[14] On Metacritic, the film received "generally favorable reviews" with a score of 64 out of 100.[15] Roger Ebert stated, "This is one of the smartest and most provocative of science fiction films, a thriller with ideas."[16] James Berardinelli praised it for "energy and tautness" and its "thought-provoking script and thematic richness."[17]

Despite critical acclaim, Gattaca was not a box office success but it is said to have crystallized the debate over tampering with human genetics.[18][19][20] The film's dystopian depiction of "genoism" has been cited by many bioethicists and laymen in support of their hesitancy about, or opposition to, eugenics and the societal acceptance of the genetic-determinist ideology that may frame it.[21] 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".[22]

In 2004, bioethicist James Hughes criticized the premise and influence of the film Gattaca,[23] arguing that:

  1. Astronaut-training programs are entirely justified in attempting to screen out people with heart problems for safety reasons;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

Accolades[edit]

Awards
Award Category Name Outcome
Academy Awards Best Art Direction Jan Roelfs
Nancy Nye
Nominated
Art Directors Guild Award Excellence in Production Design Jan Roelfs
Sarah Knowles
Natalie Richards
Nominated
Bogey Awards Bogey Award Won
Gérardmer Film Festival Special Jury Prize Andrew Niccol Won
Fun Trophy 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[edit]

Gattaca
Soundtrack album by Michael Nyman
Released October 21, 1997 (1997-10-21)
Genre Contemporary classical music, film scores, minimalism
Length 54:55
Label Virgin Records America
Producer Michael Nyman
Michael Nyman chronology
Concertos
1997
Gattaca
1997
The Suit and the Photograph
1998
From the Gattaca soundtrack by Michael Nyman

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The score for Gattaca was composed by Michael Nyman, and the original soundtrack was released on October 21, 1997.[24]

Track listing[25]
  1. "The Morrow" – 3:13
  2. "God's Hands" – 1:42
  3. "The One Moment" – 1:40
  4. "Traces" – 1:00
  5. "The Arrival" – 3:53
  6. "Becoming Jerome" – 1:06
  7. "Call Me Eugene" – 1:24
  8. "A Borrowed Ladder" – 1:47
  9. "Further and Further" – 2:43
  10. "Not the Only One" – 2:14
  11. "Second Morrow" – 2:24
  12. "Impromptu for 12 Fingers" – 2:55 (from Franz Schubert's "Impromptu in G-flat Major, Op. 90, No. 3")
  13. "The Crossing" – 1:24
  14. "It Must Be the Light" – 1:23
  15. "Only a Matter of Time" – 1:07
  16. "I Thought You Wanted to Dance" – 1:13
  17. "Irene's Theme" – 1:09
  18. "Yourself for the Day" – 2:20
  19. "Up Stairs" – 2:02
  20. "Now That You're Here" – 2:44
  21. "The Truth" – 2:13
  22. "The Other Side" – 3:44
  23. "The Departure" – 3:51
  24. "Irene & the Morrow" – 5:44

Legacy[edit]

Television series[edit]

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 was to be written by Gil Grant, who has written for 24 and NCIS.[26]

Political references[edit]

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) used near-verbatim portions of the plot summary from the Wikipedia entry on Gattaca in a speech at Liberty University on October 28, 2013 supporting Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's campaign for Governor of Virginia. Paul accused pro-choice politicians of advocating eugenics in a manner similar to the events in Gattaca.[27][28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Review of Gattaca". Challengingdestiny.com. 2004-02-25. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  2. ^ "NEUROETHICS | The Narrative Perspectives". Neuroethics.upenn.edu. Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 
  3. ^ Zimmer, Carl (November 10, 2008). "Now: The Rest of the Genome". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Gattaca — Movie Review". Metro times. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  5. ^ "Gattaca a Not-So-Perfect Specimen", Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, October 24, 1997, URL retrieved 19th February 2009
  6. ^ "Endless Pools in the Press". Endlesspools.com. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  7. ^ ""Gattaca, 1997": cars, bikes, trucks and other vehicles". IMCDb.org. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  8. ^ "US Movie Box Office Chart Weekend of October 24, 1997". The Numbers. 1997-10-24. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  9. ^ a b "Movie Gattaca - Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  10. ^ "Amazon.com: Gattaca (1997)". Amazon.com. ASIN 0767805712. 
  11. ^ "Amazon.com: Gattaca (Superbit Collection) (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Amazon.com: Gattaca (Special Edition) (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Amazon.com: Gattaca [Blu-ray] (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Gattaca (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  15. ^ "Gattaca reviews at". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  16. ^ "Gattaca :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 1997-10-24. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  17. ^ "Review: Gattaca". Reelviews.net. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  18. ^ Jabr, Ferris (2013). Are We Too Close to Making Gattaca a Reality?. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  19. ^ Darnovsky, Marcy (2008). Are We Headed for a Sci-Fi Dystopia?. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  20. ^ Pope, Marcia; McRoberts, Richard (2003). Cambridge Wizard Student Guide Gattaca. Cambridge University press. ISBN 0-521-53615-4. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ Silver, Lee M. (1997). "Genetics Goes to Hollywood". Nature Genetics 17 (3): 260. doi:10.1038/ng1197-260. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  23. ^ Hughes, James (2004). Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-4198-1. 
  24. ^ "Gattaca soundtrack overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  25. ^ "Gattaca soundtrack". SoundtrackNet, LLC. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  26. ^ Schneider, Michael (2009-10-29). "Apostle preps for post-'Rescue' life". www.variety.com. Archived from the original on 2010-01-06. 
  27. ^ Carroll, James R. (October 28, 2013). "Senator: Scientific advances could bring back eugenics". The Courier-Journal (USA Today). Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  28. ^ Kopan, Tal (October 28, 2013). "Rachel Maddow: Rand Paul ripped off Wikipedia". Politico (Sinclair Broadcast Group). Retrieved October 29, 2013. 

External links[edit]