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Festivale Spring 1997

Gattaca -- the future is Birth Control

In writer/director Andrew M. Niccol's future, you can choose your baby's sex, and screen out baldness, predispositions to anger, disease, whatever, to create the ‘best possible' blend of parental genes. Or you can have a 'faith birth'.

Vincent (Ethan Hawke) is a faith birth child, declared invalid at birth because of a 99% chance of later heart disease and an estimated life span of 30.2 years

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Movie Poster, Gattaca, Festivale film review

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But Vincent is not willing to be part of the underclass of imperfects, he becomes a borrowed-ladder, using high- and low-tech solutions to bypass the daily genetic screenings by employers and police. He masquerades as Jerome, a perfect man crippled in an accident. The two men build a friendship out of their symbiotic relationship as Vincent qualifies as an astronaut-navigator at Gattaca.

It is a controlled future, all healthy people in slick suits with never a hair out of place. The lawns are manicured, the surfaces hard and pristine, the workstations gleaming and impersonal -- this is not a warm and fuzzy future. The people here are controlled from birth, they are birth, with no excuse for second-best, and no tolerance for it.

This is close to SF noir, not as darkly brooding as Brazil, certainly as dark, but not so dirty as Blade Runner. It is a future where our dreams of making science our servant have created a world we wouldn't want to live in.

One of the pleasures of this film is that it doesn't seem to have had the muddy footprints of producers and producer's nephews and toy company representatives demanding script changes. The script is coherent and reasonable, and it obeys the primary rule of science fiction -- extrapolate one concept, and then proceed.

Gattaca is worth seeing, and thinking about.

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See also:

Andrew Niccol also wrote Sliding Doors; Truman Show
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Just the facts:

Title: Gattaca (1997)
Written by: Andrew M. Niccol 
Directed by: Andrew M. Niccol 
Produced by: Danny DeVito; Georgia Kacandes; Joshua Levinson; Gail Lyons; Michael Shamberg; Stacey Sher
Edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin 
Director of Photography: Slavomir Idziak (as Slawomir Idziak)

The Players: Ethan Hawke; Uma Thurman; Gore Vidal; Jude Law
For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.
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