Gattaca focuses on an individual, Vincent, who is a genetically imperfect human, an invalid living in a valid world. In his efforts to secure his dream of space exploration, he assumes someone else’s genetic identity to enter Gattaca, a corporation-like enterprise in space exploration open to only the genetically elite. Gattaca is a film exploring the local residing in an unaccommodating global world. While the film does express the advantages of the global such as environmentally sound electric cars and the ideal human being, much of it is done with an irony which suggests a certain contempt which challenges and questions the values of the global.
“I not only think that we will tamper with Mother Nature, I think mother wants us to.”- Willard Gaylin
In the film, the global is represented as a cold, domineering society who determines the lives of its people not by who they are or the attitudes and values the hold, but by their most basic make up; their deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This quality, this dehumanising attribute of the global is demonstrated in several places. In one particular scene we hear Vincent’s voice over as we see his parents walk into an IVF clinic determined that Vincent’s brother “would be brought into the world by what has become the natural way.” The emphasised irony expresses that this is in fact not natural and challenges the global idea of what makes us human and questions its right in tampering or intervening with something so precious and mysterious. In another scene, we hear Vincent and a seller of genetic identities discuss Jerome, a genetically elite human being who has an “expiration date you wouldn’t believe.” The description of a person expiring rather that dying, or as a euphemism, passing away questions the global’s ideas on the sanctity of life. People are dehumanised and become nothing more than a product, produced after careful screening and testing and stamped with a genetic label and expiration date.
The overpowering facelessness of the global is here associated with the loss of identity. The film is throughout tinted with a shade of yellow. Only when Vincent retreats to his home does the clarity of the vision reappear. This tint, or rather taint, represents the overpowering strength and dominance of the global and its ability to constrict and smother people. The Gattaca building itself, with its steel and chrome surfaces and lack of personality again demonstrates what an awesome force the global is. This relates to the next point: the lack of identity of the global world. In the scenes we have of the interior of Gattaca, we see rows and rows of personnel, all wearing the same black clothing and with similar styles of hair and stature. This demonstrates the assimilating nature of the global and to a lesser extent, the intolerance of the global towards more individual members of society. All differentiating characteristics have been taken away and all individuality and personality are stripped until what remains is a homogenised society. This is further emphasised in the genetic identity trade where genetically inferior persons borrow the genetic profile of a valid, at a price, to climb the social ladder. Such simple trade and swaps enforces the idea that the global doesn’t keep track of the individual and that individuality, with such ease in swapping identities, is meaningless and no longer exists in the global. Upon hearing news of a person’s death, the director of Gattaca calmly comments that “tragic though this may be, it hasn’t stopped the planets turning.” This further emphasises the coldness of the global but also highlights the insignificance of the individual in the global world.
The global pursuit of science and it’s achievements in the film may seem at times to be admired, but they are in fact being criticised. While the global view is that science advances the potential of the human race, the local sees it as a reckless pursuit and the subsequent…