Spine Film

Gattaca (1997)

Laboratory glassware – sample vials

This film explores a culture based on engineered social divisions. Set in a future dominated by eugenics, an individual's prospects are decided in the womb. If a couple elect for intervention by geneticists, the effortless passage of any child born with that assistance is virtually assured. There will be no barrier to its career or threat to its status. It will belong to the ranks of the "valid". The simple premise is that the protagonist belongs to a social group excluded from careers as astronauts on the basis of disability. He is therefore an in-valid (an invalid), but he sets out to demonstrate how he can overcome obstacles and opposition to the extent that the ascribed flaws recede in significance.

Any member of the genetically modified elite who is prepared to go off the grid can sell his or her identity on a kind of black market. This constitutes the loophole though which the hero, Vincent, emerges. As a natural or faith birth, his chances in life are distinctly limited. His will to achieve his ambition by contrast is prodigious. He is diagnosed at birth as having a high probability of acquiring both psychological and physiological disorders, and he experiences multiple symptoms of illness during childhood. Despite this, and to the dismay of his parents, he studies for his chosen career before escaping his family. When the opportunity to assume a more favorable identity arises, he is ready to accept the challenge. Enter the once valid athlete, Jerome, who is embittered by both his paraplegia, and a litany of character flaws. He is prepared to sell his DNA to Vincent, who covertly substitutes it for his own during selection and identity tests. The doors of the space academy, Gattaca, therefore open to him.

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Directed by The David Fincher

Copyright © Spine Film 2016

Image credit: CSIRO, Laboratory glassware – sample vials

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