2. Themes in Gattaca Genetic Engineering and the moral and ethical issues surrounding it. Human Frailty vs. Inhuman Perfection Oppression and Discrimination Science vs. Religion (or “Ethics”) Most of these themes are inter-related and so we will discuss them together. In an essay you will need to select the most relevant information for the point you are making. 3. Names in Gattaca Jerome = Genome (Genetic material) Morrow = i. e. as in tom morrow (of the future) “ Eugene” = comes from Greek, which means “well born” Eugenics – Science of improving the hereditary qualities of a race or breed.
Gattaca = GTCA, symbols for four main chemicals in DNA. “ Hoovers” or “J. Edgars” = vacuum cleaning brand and also J. Edgar Hoover, director of FBI. Irene Cassini – the Cassini division is the largest gap in Saturn’s rings 4. Oppression “ As night-fall does not come at once, neither does oppression… It is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become victims of the darkness. ” – Justice William O. Douglas 5. Discrimination and Oppression Gattaca is set in a future where science, and not religion, has taken over society.
A new form of discrimination has arisen, called GENOISM, discrimination according to one’s genetic purity. Write down three examples of how people are discriminated by their genes in GATTACA. 6. Discrimination and Oppression Examples of discrimination: Labels – “Invalid” – in today’s world this means useless. Use of illegal genetic testing in job interviews. “ God-child” and “Faith birth” Other examples? What examples of discrimination and oppression are there in the world? 7. World Examples of Oppression Nazi Fascism Untouchables caste of India ?? 8. 9. 10. The World of Gattaca is Dystopic How is the world of Gattaca Dystopic?
It could be a utopian world: most people are engineered to be born with little or no disabilities. But it is a dystopia. It is a perfect world, but only perfect for those who are genetically gifted. Lack of individuality. 11. Gattaca is Dystopic and Oppressive Numerous identity checks. Police and detectives all uniformed in grey trenchcoats and bring up memories of dark secret police organisations (e. g. SS in the Nazi regime) Buildings are large, bare and artificial and huge compared to individual. Surfaces of the world are polished clean and shiny, and almost sterile. 12.
Gattaca is Dystopic and Oppressive It is a picture of a world ruled by science. Tiny individual vs. monster engine of society. Nearly everyone is accepting and passive of their place in society (best example? ). It is a world where an oppressive system has been created, not by intention, but by the simple choices of individuals and their applications of scientific discovery. 13. Visual metaphors which show Oppression Motifs (repeated symbols) of glass and water, which illustrate the invisible walls Vincent is rebelling against. Where do we see glass and water in the film? E. g. Vincent looking through the glass of Gattaca as a janitor.
The swimming scenes and Anton as a symbol of the society who rejects Vincent. Bars are a metaphor for the visible barriers (find three examples in the film) 14. Human Frailty vs. Inhuman Perfection Who is the best example of human frailty in Gattaca ? How is it shown? Who is the best example of inhuman perfection? How is it shown? How is the way this theme is shown ironic? Vincent spends his life trying to hide his frailty. Eugene ends his life as a result of not being able to cope with his imperfection. 15. What is the symbolism of the ladder? “ Borrowed ladder” DNA Double Helix Social status 16.
What is the relationship between Vincent and Jerome? Vincent and Jerome form a kind of symbiosis (advantageous relationship between two animals or people e. g. Elephant bird) What does Vincent need from Jerome? What does Jerome need from Vincent? What do they receive (think about final scene between the two)? 17. Science vs. Religion (or Ethics) The Gattaca is a world in which the pace of scientific discovery has been left unchecked by moralist and ethical debate. Under the clean society, is a dark world deteriorating under the simple fact of genetic purity and lack of individuality. 18. Science vs.
Religion (or Ethics) How does Andrew Niccol introduce this theme in Gattaca? How is science portrayed? How is religion portrayed? How do we know science is the dominant aspect? 19. Science vs. Religion (or Ethics) What is Andrew Niccol’s opinion? If morality prevails, and ethics controls the use of science and not just science’s direction or speed , then genetic engineering can be used for the benefit of mankind. 20. Science vs. Religion (or Ethics) If greed and self-interest gains control of the use of scientific discoveries, then the science fiction portrayed in Gattaca could become fact.
Science in itself is not evil, but it the way it is used can be either beneficial or harmful. Scientific discoveries needs to be guided by ethical concerns, rather than just making advances. 21. Useful quotes • “We used to think our future was in the stars. Now we know it is in our genes. ” — James Watson, Nobel Prize Winner and developer of the Human Genome Project Andrew Niccol… • on Gattaca’s theme: “I would hate for anyone to look at my film and think it is advocating that you never tamper with genes, because there have been and will be many positive things to come out of this kind of science in terms of curing diseases.
But the problem is that blurred line between health and enhancement. How far do you go? Do you consider short-sightedness a disease? Premature balding? Crooked teeth? Where do you draw the line? ” 22. • on Irene’s character: “I think of Irene as somebody who would lie down and die at the alotted minute because she would feel guilty if she lived a minute longer than her profile proscribed. Uma had an excellent take on how to play her.
Instead of being pitiful, she plays Irene as a woman who is very definite about her shortcomings, who is very film in her belief in her fatalites. ” 23. • Jude Law : “I was fascinated not only with the world that Andrew created but also with the characters and their loneliness. The primary forces running this world are prejudice, judgment and a very subtle form of dictatorship. It plays on the simple paranoias tha humans have- that they are not as good or successful as the next person or that their child is not the most perfect child of all time.
Andrew creates this very manicured world in which human feelings are trying to burst out, in which the quest to make a better society has destroyed individuality. ” 24. • Ernest Borgnine : “One of the things I like most about this story is that it is really about how we treat fellow man. God knows we’ve seen discrimination in our world and unfortunately we seem to have forgotten how to love one another. Will we learn to treat one another kindly no matter a person’s skin or beliefs or genetics, or will we find new ways to discriminate? “