WHAT DOES BIG BROTHER WANT?  Well, there is no “Big Brother” per se, but society wants perfection, and it knows how to get it.

WHAT DOES THE REBEL WANT?  Same as anybody, to go into space.  I think “space” here represents “heaven.”  The protagonist has been damned by unfortunate birth to hell; he’s going to fool the gatekeepers of heaven into letting him slip by.

WHAT DOES THE REBEL GET?  With the aid of an unfortunate perfect-guy (who condemns himself to flames of perdition just as the protagonist is lifted into heaven), plus the love of a beautiful woman (nothing, NOTHING is accomplished in a Futuristic Dystopia without the love of a beautiful woman), plus the last-minute good will of a company doctor, he gets his wish.

DOES SOCIETY CHANGE AS A RESULT OF THE REBEL’S ACTIONS?  Revolution isn’t really the protagonist’s goal here, and not even escape really.  He wants to belong; he wants to know he’s good enough to go to heaven.  The screenwriter chose the term “Valid” for a reason.

NOTES: The theme of the movie, it seems to me, is Will.  Does the protagonist have sufficient will to achieve his goal?  Does he have what it takes to overcome his genetic predisposition, switch identities with another guy, keep up the ruse for years, endure loneliness, constant, obsessive vigilance in cleanliness, break his own legs, live with Jude Law?

The fimmakers face a problem, of course: genetic science and astrophysics are dull, cerebral subjects.  How to juice up the narrative and compel audience interest?  MURDER!  MURDER MOST FOUL, that’s how.  And so, on his way to the stars, our protagonist gets caught up in a murder investigation that seems important only to the police.  Indeed, no one seems interested in or excited by anything in this sterile, unpopulated future; to be excited, I suppose, would be to be less than perfect, which everyone is, or pretends to be.

Our protagonist is totally obsessed, to a ridiculous degree, with getting to the stars, and yet, with days to go before launch and a murder investigation breathing down his neck, he decides to take a chance in romancing Uma Thurman.  This in spite of the risk of exposure, the unhygenic quality of sexual contact, the possibility of getting “girl germs” and the fact that Uma doesn’t seem to have much of a pulse.  Perhaps he feels that if he can’t reach the stars in heaven he can at least have one in his bed on Earth.

Then, cleared from his murder investigation, given a clean bill of health from his corporation, and ready for launch, the protagonist must still face down his brother/detective for one last suicidal swim.  Boys, as the saying goes, will be boys.

One of my posters pointed out in the previous entry that the society of Gattaca is filled with genetic flaws despite science’s best efforts, but I’m not sure that’s what the movie is trying to say.  There is the usual assortment of Valids and In-Valids in society it seems, and they all seem to get along okay, although the Valids seem to lord it over the mutts a little bit.  There is the six-fingered pianist, but it’s unclear from the script whether the pianist is a genetic freak or a planned accident — that is, is he another kind of outsider, like the protagonist, an In-Valid who has overcome his genetic deformity to find a place in Valid society, or did his parents actually give him six fingers on purpose so that he could become a great pianist?  “That piece can only be played with six fingers,” says Uma, indicating that the piece in question was composed specifically for someone genetically modified.
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2 Responses to “Gattaca”
  1. greyaenigma says:


    Gattaca! Gattaca! Gattaca!

    OK, that’s out of my system.

    Incidentally, for another movie on the obsession of getting up into space, you may want to check out Wings of Honnemaise, although that’s more alternate world stuff than futuristic dystopia.

  2. teamwak says:

    I did like this movie. I once saw it described as a sci-fi with no sc-fi in it lol

    I thoughts Judes departure was shocking and amazing, and frankly – has a penis ever played such a pivotal part in the ending of any movie that wasn’t a porn one lol Like an M Night ending written by Judd Apaotow 🙂

    Still remember that ending!