"Gattaca" is one of the better science-fiction films that I have seen in recent years. It looks stylish ,it is filmed superbly and it is well acted. It is an atmospheric and thoughtful futuristic film ,not of the high octane, pumping soundtrack variety . The premise of the film is interesting and also quite credible , namely that in the future genetically engineered human beings will be given preferential treatment in the job market and "normal" humans will be allocated menial occupations. As in the films "1984" and "Brazil" ,for example , "Gattaca" is about one man's resistance to an oppressive , stratified social system which interferes intolerably with personal liberty. It is a cautionary tale and perhaps also a parable about life in today's transnational organisations. The Gattaca Corporation , with its robotic, dehumanised compulsive achievers lined up in front of their PC's like well groomed battery chickens, mirrors the typical modern day open plan corporate office. "There is no gene for the human spirit" indeed.
Genetic defectives have been a staple of science fiction ever since the discovery of DNA. But until 'Gattaca', the powerful symbolism of future genetics for present day racism never made it onto the silver screen.
This is raised to an inspired level by writer/director Andrew Niccol's decision to film it as if all the flashbacks had taken place in our own past. In written SF, this could only have been achieved by a complicated alternate reality setting. But, in cinema, Niccol's careful choice of fifties clothing styles, haircuts, and black-and-white family snap-shots powerfully evokes a past for the protagonist, Vincent (Ethan Hawke), which mirrors our own past.
I had expected this film to be bleak and oppressive. The premise, and the first half-hour, create an air-tight world where Vincent is condemned to second-class servitude because his conception was natural rather than genetically screened.
But Niccol skilfully switches the 1984 style bleakness into an ultra-tech murder-thriller, with the murder of the mission-director, moments (in film time) after we learn of the meticulous plan by which Vincent will pass as genetically perfect and achieve his dream of space-travel.
Suspense builds from this point on. On the first time of watching I was convinced Vincent would be caught, right up to the final moment.
The core of this film is in Vincent's words: "There is no gene for fate", although the official tag-line was "There is no gene for the human spirit". It becomes an enormously positive affirmation that sheer guts and determination will take anyone to reach their dream.
This is an excellent film, but it will not please everyone. It is essentially a short-story created in perfect detail for cinema. SF fans will appreciate the purity of the vision. But the film lacks the epic scope which most people associate with modern science-fiction cinema. And anyone wanting a special-effects laden space-romp should look elsewhere.
But, in its own scale and its own terms, Gattaca is virtually flawless.
Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, Gattaca is a low-key, stylish, intelligent, dystopian (depending on your point of view) near-future SF thriller which explores the practice of eugenics in a brave new world where, due to genetic engineering, perfect humans have inherited the earth while natural born humans are consigned to a life of drudgery and menial jobs. This is a powerful and sensitive story of a ‘godchild’, a ‘degenerate’, an ‘in-valid’ who dares to dream and through an elaborate subterfuge challenges the system. Ethan Hawke’s Vincent (a wonderfully understated performance) stubbornly resists and rebels against its orthodoxy and with the aid of Jude Law’s flawed ‘valid’ inveigles himself into a training programme preparing for a forthcoming expedition to one of Saturn’s moons. Vincent appears to have succeeded in his quest when he is chosen to be a crew member on the next space mission. However, a week before take-off an administrator is murdered and when the subsequent police investigation unearths a clue which suggests the presence of an in-valid within the Gattaca organisation Vincent’s plans are placed in grave jeopardy. With a fine cast including Uma Thurman, Elias Koteas, Alan Arkin and Gore Vidal, superb cinematography and a subtly affecting musical score by British composer Michael Nyman this movie is an often overlooked SF classic which deserves greater recognition. As well as exploring themes of predestination and free will Niccol poses an ethical question about the nature of science which has significant resonance in contemporary society. This is an outstanding film, more complex than it initially seems, and which rewards with each viewing. Highly recommended.
I give no apologies for this review, it is completely biased one, first things first, and this review is about the `superbit' circ 1998. If this review is found next to another format version, please ignore.
A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of an enhanced genetically tweaked superior individual in order to pursue his ultimate dream of space travel; by doing this, he has committed the “crime” of using a “borrowed ladder” – by using the genetic profile of another person. Gattaca is in many ways is one the best films seen. Just as people have been judged for centuries by the colour of their skin, their class or religious persuasion Gattaca predicts and explores the future where there will be a more subtle discrimination. It being a science fiction film helps make it more effective by allowing us to feel the emotions of the characters with little of our own history getting in the way. A haunting musical score goes well with the feeling of the film, with stunning visual backdrops and the very clear use of tinted lenses makes each scene vibrant eye candy.
Ethan Hawke as Vincent does a sterling job of displaying how the odds are stacked against from his very inception! This is someone whose life is limited before he even tries. However, just as fascinating were the theoretically superior characters; Vincent's girlfriend, brother and his genetic original who suffer from the lie that genetics can perfectly predict a person's life.
This disc plays well on a number of first generation DVD players. The colours are solid the sound is excellent; please note I did not try out the various sound enhanced systems, i.e. 5.1 Dolby, as I do not have this equipment. That said, the Superbit DVD was played on HD DVD player, and HD Flat screen TV. The experience is mind blowing; I cannot see the difference between picture quality on this DVD and some of the newer HD DVD releases. OK HD DVD is a defunct format, but it shows that up scaling this DVD gives it 'Angelic wings'. Is it worth buying? The answer is yes. This superbit DVD makes a fantastic film, even more mind blowing.
Some years ago at a film event, I asked Ernest Borgnine, who played the janitor in the film, what he thought of GATTACA. In a rather dismissive way, he said he did not get it. Well that is his flawed genome. If you would like to see a sci-fi film that is based on curious characters and thought provoking circumstances - and not explosions, try Gattaca. Enjoy!
on 4 January 2003
Gattaca is a beautiful film.
I've read a review that focuses on fingernail clippings and criticises the special effects which has spurred me to defend this film.
Yes, in the opening credits we see closeups of finger nail clippings falling to the floor, but they are almost beautiful set against the light blue background. However, I don't know many people that are only interested in the opening credits.
So, if you think science fiction is only about special effects, go watch a big budget, badly acted, 'run of the mill', 'Sci-Fi' film. If you want to watch a modern classic of the science fiction genre watch Gattaca.
The visuals in this film are amazing. The cyber-punk world, that we are presented with, features a beautiful mix of many different periods of the last century. Everything is sleek and smooth. This film is science fiction for the young professional.
When I buy a DVD and there are deleted scenes on it, I always think to myself that one or two of them should have been left in. However watching Gattaca's 'Lost Scenes' I realized just how much this film had been crafted. None of these sequences deserved being placed into the film. This film really is a work of art. Everything is just right.
Forget about the science fiction for a moment though. This film is inspiring. The cover states "There is no gene for the human spirit". This film tells us that we can do anything. Nothing is set in stone, we can control our own fate.
When I'm depressed I watch this film, it motivates me, like no other.
The only real shock was that Danny DeVito was a producer on this film. My opinion of him has altered post-Gattaca.
on 28 November 2002
Gattaca is by far one of the best sci-fi movies I have ever seen. It's about a man named Vincent who overcomes a prejudicial system impossed upon him through sheer self determination, who doesn't accept anything less than the full attainment of his dream. The story line was inspiring and thought-provoking, the acting is great (especially Hawke and Law), and the production design and art direction are totally stunning. There are little special effects which sets this movie apart from other sci-fi movies. Gattaca is simply a beautiful unique work of art filled with emotion, intelligence, beauty, and suspense. Definitely a must see for anyone.
on 20 April 2015
Great Sci Fi drama, just wanted to confirm this Blu-ray is multi Region and play's on U.K. players.
Picture is detailed and worth the upgrade from DVD.
on 6 August 2012
This is a fantastic film, with a great story line and starring the recently departed Gore Vidal, may he rest in peace.
I won't bore you with the story line, as other reviewers have already gone into this in detail.
If you are buying this DVD for the deleted scenes, please don't bother. The quality of the film in these outtakes is shockingly bad - very blurry. There are also not many deleted scenes, the few there are are not very long and they also add nothing to the understanding of the film itself. We are not talking Avatar collector's edition deleted scenes here.
I would recommend buying the bog standard edition rather than this one - or something that has been digitally enhanced in some way.
The film itself is fantastic and the only reason I gave it 4 stars and not 5 was because of the rubbish 'extras'.
on 7 November 2006
At the beginning of "Gattaca", a film of Andrew Niccol, I sat there, looking at the screen, hoping that the film will be finished soon. It is a Science-Fiction movie. The story takes place in the future and after the first 10 minutes I was really confused of the many different characters.
Usually, I dislike such films, but "Gattaca" really surprised me...
Ethan Hawke plays a young man who was born with a congenital heart condition and a life expectancy of about 30 years. He is a so called second class person in a society, where the DNA of a person determines where the person belongs in life. With his job as a cleaner at Gattaca Corp, a great aerospace firm, he is far away from his dream: He wants to travel to space.
The problem is that he will be sorted out by his genes, so it is nearly impossible for him, to reach his aim. He will be always discriminated by the society. But he is a fighter. One day, when he beats his brother, who has perfect genes, in their favourite game called chicken, he is sure that everything is possible.
He meets Jerome Morrow, a first-class person who is selected for the mission to Saturn. Jerome is also one of the persons with a perfect DNA, but he is crippled after a car-accident, so that he also has no chance to make a career. He is worthless for the society in this time.
Now, Vincent gives up his own identity and assumes Jerome's identity. He uses Jerome's hair, skin, blood, urine and many more samples for passing all the gene tests. As a consequence he tries to extinguish everything, which shows his real identity. At this point of the story, where he is more and more prominent at Gattaca and where his dream is not so far away any more, he also meets Irene, a perfected, but ill young woman. They fall in love, although she does not know his real identity. When the director of the mission to Saturn is murdered, the situation gets even more complicated. Vincent loses an eyelash at the scene and is suspected to be the murderer. Now he is searched by the police and there are even more gene tests he has to pass. Every little mistake could identify him. In this case he would not only lose his chance to persuade his lifelong desire, but also be condemned as a murder. Furthermore, Vincent cannot be sure, whom he can trust.
There are only a few days left until he should fly to space and these are the most beautiful, but also the most difficult days of his life...
The tension in this film is breathtaking. This film keeps you in suspense until the last word is spoken.
It is not an easy film. It is not a film with spectacular visual effects or excessive violence. It is a film you have to think about to understand and like it.
The characters at Gattaca are well chosen and the performances of the actors are very good. Every single character tells an own story and they are all victims of the society. Vincent as one of the last "natural" babies in this new world, Jerome and Irene as perfect people with an imperfect life.
Jerome's handicap and Irene's illness show the imperfection of the system, where DNA prescribes the way of life and where a person is not known by the name, but by the genes.
The main characters are people like you and me. Vincent could be my brother or a friend of mine, if I was born some years later. They show their feelings and wishes, in a world, where feelings are not allowed. They win and they fail, but they are definitively not perfect.
Some plot twists and the many changes between the characters and their names make the movie a little bit confusing.
Nevertheless there is a special atmosphere which captivates you in this film. As a viewer you can love with them but you can also suffer with the main characters, if you open your mind to this new world.
Gattaca is not only a Science-Fiction-Movie. It is also a wonderful story about love and a nearly impossible dream, which becomes possible by a strong effort.
It informs us about the great possibilities in science and technology in the future. It shows us, how extensive the intervention in life and nature will be and at least the consequences of such an intervention: discrimination, job selection and a world which is ruled by genes.
Genes can be perfected, but feelings cannot be manipulated.
There is no gene for fate and nobody can influence the ordinary run of things.
Andrew Niccol criticizes the society of the future and the blind acceptance of everyone.
As I said at the beginning, I do not like weird stories about the future, but Gattaca tells us a very realistic story about a new world which is likely to be our "New World" in a couple of years.
All in all you can say that Gattaca is a sweet and sad film. A film you have to think about and which can make you cry.
Based on the very American gene fable which has gained such a dominant position within US psychology, forever wheeled out to justify the current social arrangements, let alone the near future. It is not log cabin to whitehouse, your position is pre-determined by your DNA.
As a creed it has its own set of adherents, and operates as a glowering Old Testament ideology also beloved by Amerikkans. This is where those who continuously buy into this bogus discipline - which is essentially built upon the very unsolid foundations of eugenics - gain a foot on the ladder of success. It is a self propelling ideal, designed to exclude as much as define. And this film shows what happens when this creed becomes a dominant ideology. However its critique is somewhat blunted.
Here the "gene" for "addiction," "domestic violence" and "silliness" can be bred out of each individual to create the unique being. However what is not looked at within the film is raw flimsiness of these various descriptors. They do not exist in themselves, there is no "disease" but there are a number of names attributed to behaviors - a huge difference. But psychology and those bogus scientists believe otherwise and the script writers have lapped it up to produce a saucer of milk.
In the best of pure American tradition, we have the odd fellow who bucks the system, but the system itself never comes under scrutiny itself; despite wheeling out Gore Vidal, to act as some counterpoint to the young bucks who fill the screens. You see the Amerikkkan dream is based on lucky winners, and this is what we have here, a lucky winner - someone who wins the lottery ticket and joins the elite - except as a fraud.
Therefore the story is somewhat deceptive, it gets you to believe in the basic mythological concept before telling you that hard work can too make you part of that elite ie the current craze around plasticity. But this is pure Aryan myth, there is no gene for an elite anymore than there is a gene for writing reviews - however what becomes important is that there is a belief these genes exist. And this is what is only tentatively explored by the script writer in this offering.
The film does not delve too deeply into this subsection of academic mythologising and instead glides upon the Amerikkkan surface of glittering desire. It is a proper gander movie. So why the 3 stars?
Where it does succeed however, is in the acting, the ponderous style, noir interiors - Jude Law steals and Urma glitters. It is not intense, but it has a certain camera aesthetic and robotic rigid setting which raise it up a notch, but it holds back in delivering the killer punch. Instead it meanders in its story line
I guess that is the Amerikkkan Way - everyone can dream but it is not reality