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Movie Poster for Gattaca

Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction film by director/screenwriter Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law and Alan Arkin.

It combines a Hollywood action/adventure plot with a distinct vision and statement on a future where genetic testing and eugenic genetic engineering have altered humankind to such an extent that children conceived by traditional sexual reproduction are members of an underclass.

Recent developments in genetic diagnosis of inherited diseases and the real-world technologies of in vitro fertilisation and embryo selection have made a society similar to that represented in Gattaca seem feasible in the not-too-distant future.



In a world in which genetic engineering is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining a person's societal standing, Vincent (Hawke), was conceived without the aid of this technology. Suffering from the nearly-eradicated physical dysfunctions of nearsightedness and a congenital heart defect, as well as being given a life expectancy of 30 years, Vincent faces extreme discrimination and prejudice. The only way he can achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut is to impersonate someone else. He buys the identity of paraplegic swimming star Jerome "Eugene" Morrow (Law) and, using the DNA samples Jerome provides, gains admittance to Gattaca, the interstellar authority of the day. The plan works perfectly until a mission director is murdered and a trace of Vincent's own DNA is found at the crime scene in the form of an eyelash. Now Vincent must evade ever-increasing security as his mission launch date approaches and he pursues a relationship with his co-worker Irene Cassini (Thurman).

The story has some parallels with Robert Heinlein's novel Beyond This Horizon, which was published in 1942. In that story, doctors would design each child by selecting the best of the parents' genes; using genes not found in either parent was forbidden. As in Gattaca, people without engineered genomes were looked down upon. Another similarity between Gattaca and Heinlein's writing is that the protagonists in both Gattaca and Heinlein's story Starman Jones memorize a book on astrogation and falsify their identities in order to secure a job.

The story reveals an interesting irony of the perfect Eugene falling short of his genetic destiny and the imperfect Vincent transcending his. A lesser version of the defect that was supposed to have killed the "faulty" Vincent prevents "perfect" Irene from flying. This dualism shows how genetics policy curbs the freedom both of "perfect" and "faulty" humans.

Themes of this movie include, identity, dreams, parenthood, sibling rivarly, and the values of dreams and determination.


  • The name of the film is derived from GATTACA, an arbitrary DNA base pair sequence of adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine. The recent publication of the human genome sequence reveals that GATTACA, along with most other short base-pair sequences, occurs commonly throughout the human genome.
  • Throughout the opening credits, the letters A, T, C, and G are highlighted.
  • To create an eerie atmosphere of ubiquitous physical perfection, the director cast fashion models as extras.
  • The staircase in the house of the real Jerome Morrow has helical structure and actually holds resemblance to Watson and Crick's DNA model.
  • The musical score of the movie was composed by Michael Nyman, known for his work on The Piano.
  • Vincent's brother Anton is his Antagonist.
  • "Eugene" means "well born" in Greek. See also eugenics. It of course also contains the word gene.
  • Jerome's first name rhymes with genome.
  • The character Irene Cassini is named for Giovanni Domenico Cassini, a 17th century astronomer who discovered the largest gap in Saturn's main rings: the Cassini Division. He also discovered its moons, Dione, Iapetus, Rhea, and Thethys. Cassini-Huygens is a space mission intended to study Saturn and its moons, launched in 1997. The space mission in Gattaca is destined for Saturn's moon Titan.
  • Gattaca is partially filmed in Marin County at the Marin County Civic Center (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), which is called "Gattaca Aerospace Corporation" in the movie. Much of the interior of Gattaca, however, is filmed in Hollywood, except for scenes near escalators.
  • The exterior of Vincent and Jerome's apartment was filmed at the CLA (Classrooms, Laboratories, and Administration) Building of Cal Poly Pomona.
  • Agents of the FBI are called "Hoovers": referencing FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and the Hoover Company — creators of vacuum cleaners, which are shown gathering DNA evidence.
  • Well-known American author Gore Vidal is cast as Director Josef.
  • The public announcement system of Gattaca is spoken in Esperanto, a constructed international language.
  • The piece played by the six-fingered pianist is based on Impromptu in G Flat Major, Op. 90, No. 3 by Franz Schubert. For the performance in the film, the piece was embellished with additional notes and harmonies so that it "can only be played with twelve [fingers]," as Irene explains.
  • The film's working title was "The Eighth Day", a reference to the Biblical creation story, which states that the earth was created in six days and on the seventh day, God rested. The original title implies the tampering of man with what God has already made, and "The Eighth Day" is still the name of the center in the movie where the children are engineered, as noted on the DVD deleted scenes.

See also

External links

eo:Gattaca fr:Bienvenue Gattaca pt:Gattaca


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