Gattaca – Analysis

Gattaca is one of most exciting movie of the last twenty years, in terms of ideas and philosophical meaning, especially the ethical issues raised by this film. Produced by Andrew Niccol, Gattaca raises the question of eugenics, and beyond this issue, the role of technique in modern society.

Summary of Gattaca: A futuristic film

Gattaca is a futuristic city, a research center specializing in aerospace research but has some significant characteristics: the center only hires people whose genetic approach perfection. This story takes place indeed in the near future, where science such as genetics have developed and have solved the mystery of DNA and the human genome. The acquisition of knowledge has allowed science to create human beings genetically selected. Every parent wish to have a child then has the option to choose all the features of their children, eye color, hair, through the eradication of their genetic diseases, to create beings without flaws, perfect. Human beings are genetically at birth. Therefore, the criterion for hiring this company, and in particular this research center is nothing but the genetic code for employees, as it appears to resume. Only those with perfect genes have access to better jobs, children with natural genes, designed without the aid of science, called “natural” or “invalid” (which is already on the context) are in turn forced to poverty, exclusion, segregation, jobs very low levels … To be sure that their children a bright future, so parents buy catalog sperm and egg donors “high end” .

It is in this world that one meets Vincent (played by Ethan Hawke), natural child, i.e. has  “imperfect” genes, who dreams of going to space and Jerome (played by Jude Law), for his candidate ideal that sees his life destroyed by an accident. Each will allow the other to get what they want and overcome the laws of Gattaca. Jerome praises indeed his body to Vincent, in providing the biological samples, skin, blood, urine or hair for DNA testing, and Vincent then slips into the character of Jerome after a physical and psychological changes, despite constraints drastic cleaning permanent example. He became a “pirate Genetics”, also called “de-gen-era.” The invalid and valid ousted Vincent Jérôme live and one through the other.

Irene Cassini (played by Uma Thurman), a charming fellow – which despite its perfect design suffers from heart problems – falls in love with Vincent and trying to find out who he really is a DNA test, but found that the identity of Jerome Eugene Morrow. She admits that bêtiseet gives him a hair for it to do the same, but let the hair fly Jérôme show that it does not focus on such details. The story is complicated as the center’s director is murdered and one of Vincent’s eyelashes is found invalid …


Film study on Gattaca:

This highly technological society and very advanced culturally, which has the appeal of what science could offer a better a priori, a body that exudes health and perfection, which is idyllic for those whose genes and body are perfect nightmare for men to natural DNA, conceived naturally. This company in fact the practice through a more or less visible and displayed as eugenics would do in the design of children, parents, sort and select the gametes to develop in vitro perfect children. And although this is officially banned, companies and employers use DNA testing discrete (an exchange of handshake that is the case) instead of resumes to select their employees, those “natural” find themselves socially paralyzed. The importance of DNA in this society is found even in the title of the film Gattaca since the title refers to the four nucleotides, the four DNA base such as guanine, adenine, thymine, cytosine and finally , the sequence appearing Gattaca itself several times in the human genome. Also, note that the name of the protagonist is Eugene Jerome himself refers to genes, and this in an almost explicit or still, the staircase of the house shared by Jerome and Vincent is the representation of a double helix, form in which the protein DNA. Everything is run by the genes in this society, to the scenery and the very identity of the characters, and for good reason, moreover, genes are the founders of men.

This company (and especially the movie that describes this company) then denounced the abuses which can lead science. While initially the intention is good in the idea of allowing everyone to live in a body in good health and almost perfect (although if you dig the idea, there may be problems) this good intention turned into a nightmare when a value-judgment is given. Given that those with perfect genes are valued over others, the company, which therefore promotes discrimination based on their recent genetic determinism puts into practice eugenics.

The film thus appears first as a denunciation of eugenics, the practice of improving the hereditary characteristics of the human species in a deliberate and artificial manner, since it presupposes that there is improvement intervention as there is selection of genes considered favorable, beneficial, and eradication of those who are carriers of handicaps. But this raises the real ethical problem with regard to those born naturally, “invalid” whose genes are not perfect. For was it right, how and with what legitimacy of the ban of high office under the pretext that their life is not up or simply because they have certain disabilities?

In addition, we could we ask (we pointed out a few lines above) if such a project is truly the happiness of the individual himself. Is Happiness consists in a perfect body or self-fulfillment? Or is that in such a society the satisfaction (as material that may be) have proved to ourselves that we had the intellectual capacity to achieve such a goal, a senior business if the only CV is worth our genome, something is gained not by itself a work of itself, but is already there, already acquired, based in us, and we need only update in a totally unconscious?

This film proves, in fact, that perfection is not synonymous with happiness. Vincent makes it a point to beat the odds and deny all that has been made on him at birth, showing that perfection, given the choice and determination, is worthless in itself, not even in a society that made his criterion of value. Indeed, Vincent, who has a brother, changing, growing, and its progression makes sense, while his brother, genetically optimized for its part, is not progressing in his life, he enters the Criminal Police, but stagnating professionally: he has nothing to prove or to society or to himself. Vincent meanwhile wants to prove that even an invalid, a “degenerate” can achieve happiness, can break into that company which nevertheless leaves him no chance. The genetic code is in reality a given, and not have a route, it is not determinism leads us where we go, just determination.

Conclusion on Gattaca:

Gattaca is a science fiction film without fighting, or impressive special effects : that’s because it favors ideas, the substance rather than form. In fact Gattaca wants to reflect on issues such as eugenics. Gattaca is a brilliant reflection on the human freedom.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Gattaca – Analysis, May 25, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 25, 2012,

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