Themes in Gattaca

Gattaca 2.5 Film Essay
Analyse how particular techniques are used to develop deeper ideas in a visual text you have studied.
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In Andrew Niccol??™s movie Gattaca, visual techniques are used to develop the deeper ideas and themes of the human spirit, discrimination and determinism. Some of the techniques are extreme close up, flashback and lighting. Niccol does this for the purpose of showing the audience how someone can prevail against many challenges and achieve their goal.

Determinism or the belief that our destinies are mapped out for us at birth is a deeper idea in Gattaca. In the world of Gattaca, the wider society believes that their DNA determines what they as humans can achieve. Andrew Niccol develops this idea through the use of visual techniques. The movie begins with extreme close-ups of slowly falling hair, nails and skin cells. A few seconds later in the film we see a point of view/close up shot of Vincent injecting blood into a fake finger tip. This emphasises the importance of human blood and cells to the citizens of this futuristic world. They are important because they contain DNA which supposedly dictates the very day they will die, the smaller details are what their world revolves around. As the mission director says ???No-one exceeds potential. If he did, it would simply mean that we did not gauge his potential in the first place.??? The development of this idea is used for the purpose of bringing a conflict to the audience??™s minds – the debate of free will , and to make the audience question whether DNA really does control a human??™s development.

Human spirit and Free will are more ideas in Gattaca which are developed and film techniques are used to deepen our understanding of them. Despite all that we are shown about determinism in the futuristic society, Vincent still chooses his own destiny. This shows a clear contradiction to the basis that a persons DNA dictates what they can achieve because Vincent shows that it is if one has enough strength of will you can push the ???limitations??? of our genetic make up. Techniques really help us understand what makes Vincent capable of defying the system, mainly a Flashback. The flashback in the film goes all the way back to before Vincent was born and his story up until present day. In this story we see his struggles as an in valid and him fighting and rising against them. For example in the second swimming race that we see between Vincent his valid brother Anton, Vincent beats him ???That was the one moment in our lives that my brother was not as strong as he believed and I was not as weak. That was the moment that made everything else possible???. This helps the reader understand that it is the events in someone??™s past which can shape them and the choices they make. From then on Vincent has an absolute drive to succeed, something which can not be found in a gene. A point of view shot from Vincent looking to the stars is a technique that shows us that Vincent always has his goal of travelling to space in mind, and it is what makes persevere through all his hardships. We learn from it that he never loses sight of it, and is determined to go there. This all links to the Andrew Niccol??™s purpose of showing the viewer that even in a world which should have everyone thinking and acting the same, it is not in a human being??™s nature to just give up but we have an intangible drive to succeed or to fulfil or own dreams.

Lastly, a deeper idea in Gattaca is the idea of discrimination. In the futuristic setting of the movie people are discriminated on the basis of their genes, and this is called ???genosim???. In his narration Vincent explains ???I belong to a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the colour of your skin. We now have discrimination down to a science???. Many subtle techniques are used throughout the film to develop this idea. In Gattaca the symbol for an invalid person is a cross (referring to a god or faith birth) and the symbol for valid people is the infinity symbol. This shows how people in Gattaca have a discriminative mentality in thinking that valids are invincible but in-valids are not, and even the fact that they have to put people under symbols is almost reminiscent to the Jew Star from Nazi war time. Because it is a symbol which people use as a basis for how they will treat a person. Vincent??™s father says to him ???the only way you will see the inside of a spaceship is if you??™re cleaning in??? which shows the absolute non belief that in-valid people can amount to anything. Another technique we see is lighting being used to form a criss-cross pattern on Vincent??™s face which illustrates how he is trapped by society, similarly after the treadmill scene Vincent collapse on to a caged fence which again gives the viewer the feeling of him being imprisoned. I think the directors purpose in developing this deeper idea, is to show the viewer that discrimination is never right, and by showing us it from a different angle we learn that everyone should be treated fairly and equally and that justice is a basic human right. As a viewer we know that Vincent is better and more hardworking than what people credit him for and that if he were given a fair chance, he deserves to go to space just as much as a valid person.

In conclusion Andrew Niccol has written a wonderfully layered film containing deeper ideas which are developed by a number of film techniques to really show the viewer his purpose and intentions.

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