Question: “Describe at least one idea that changed your perspective on the film.”
In the Film Gattaca, Andrew Niccol approaches an idealistic future where humans are genetically selected to be physically flawless. Nicole explores this eugenic world that he has created through the use of symbolism, following the two main characters, Jerome and Vincent, through their struggles against the expectations that society has placed on them, determined purely by their genetic advantages and disadvantages. Genetically, Jerome is flawless and because of this, he is highly thought of and sought after in the space industry. However, this perfection has taken away any dream or ambition to achieve what society is expecting of him; to go to space. He has no drive or self-motivation to explore what may lay outside the world he knows, at least not in the way society wants. Instead, he wants to leave the world and his genetic gifts behind by ending his own life. On the other end of the spectrum, Vincent was born with a heart disorder believed to kill him before he reaches the age of 30, and is consequently not thought of as genetically fit to fulfil prestigious occupations such as those in the space industry. Although, in Vincent’s case, he was also gifted with a dream to one day go to space and the lack of societies support only further fuelled and inspired his ambition. He is willing to take any risk or make any sacrifice in order to achieve his dreams.
In the scene set in Jerome and Vincent house, Niccol directly compares Jerome and Vincent to human DNA through symbolism and visual representation. In the centre of this scene, the staircase is in the shape of a helix, a shape mirroring the structure of DNA. The scene shows Eugene struggling to climb the helix staircase.
Through this symbolism, Niccol stimulates a question in the forefront of his audience’s eyes. Is there actually a gene for the human spirit?
The idea presented in this scene, that indeed, there is no gene for the human spirit, changed my perspective on the film. Initially, Niccol had his audience focused on the positives of eugenic society and having every person engineered to be genetically flawless. I fell prey to Niccol’s intentions and the good that lay in his modernistic idea. I was blinded and only saw the advantages that being genetically exceptional would bring. This scene made me realised that in actual fact, your ambition, dreams and goals are not predecided at your conception, and your potential in life is genetically not decided by your genes, even if it is later decided by society based on these genes. This scene illustrates that you can overcome your genetics and live a life where you decided where your genetics will lead you, and not where you genetics decide where you will go and what you can accomplish.