“Vincent!” the young mother screamed out as she saw her son fall clumsily onto the ground before him. He laid there for a few seconds, clutching a toy rocket ship close to his chest, before his mother ran to pick him up. This one scene, would define to the audience, how this little boy would be perceived his whole life – as someone who is fragile, ill and too weak to accomplish anything. Little did he know that the name his mother screamed in fear and worry, the name that his father chose for him in shame, would be a secret prophecy. The name Vincent, comes from the latin word vincere, which means “to conquer”. And as we know, Vincent indeed conquers not only the prejudice from both society and his own family, but his own fears, doubts and even his own DNA.
Gattaca is a science fiction filmed released during the year 1997. The film, opens up with a narration of the life of Vincent Freeman, a man who has been dealt the unlucky hand in a world of genetic discrimination. “Flawed” with inferior genes that causes him to be ailed with a heart condition and myopia, Vincent dreams of pursuing his goal to one day be in space. I personally found Gattaca to be an intriguing and engaging movie. From the little toy rocket Vincent held in hands as a child, to Dr. Lamar’s first remark about his son in the beginning of the film, Gattaca was filled with secret hints and foreshadows of what was to come. I liked being able to watch the movie a second time around and pick up on those clues that I had missed in the original viewing. My favorite “hint” was when younger Vincent took a seashell and cut his thumb open. Blood dripped slowly out of the open wound. Vincent gave the shell to his brother, expecting him to follow through, but instead Anton stared at the shell for a while and tossed it into the sand. To me, this was a foreshadow for the spirit and dedication Vincent would pour into pursuing his goal, his willingness to do anything and everything, and the cockiness Anton would pour into his “perfect genes”.
Another thing I particularly liked about this movie was its imagery. From the opening of the film where the camera zooms in on strands of hair, to the end where the fire from Vincent’s rocket ship was analogous to the flames that ultimately killed Jerome, the imagery was both thought out and particularly elegant. I loved seeing the ocean waters from Irene’s bedroom and the sunrise from Gattaca’s rooftop filled with solar panels. The interesting thing I find about this movie is that although it is supposed to have a “futuristic” feel, it seems to actually have many “old school” styles. The cars in particular seem to be fairly old-fashioned as do the slick back hairstyles the characters seem to wear.
One thing I can truly appreciate about Gattaca is its message. The idea that the only thing that can truly stop you from pursuing your dreams is yourself and that no matter what, you can’t stand in the way of the human spirit. Although I do love this concept and the message of anti-discrimination, I can’t help but feel that the film stereotyped the character of Jerome. The audience is left to assume during the movie that Jerome attempted suicide once by stepping into the way of a moving car. As a result, he was permanently paralyzed from the waist down and forced to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. From this point on, Jerome is perceived to be as nothing more than a body for Vincent to use. This was Jerome’s role, however, I didn’t understand why Jerome seemed to appear so useless. Although he couldn’t make use of his physical attributes that his genes gifted him, Jerome could have certainly done something with his legendary IQ that German initially brags about to Vincent.
Perhaps this was simply meant to be Jerome’s role in the story. How complex could the story be if both men were to lead lives and risk the possibilities of people finding out there were two Jerome Morrows? And although Jerome had rather perfect attributes, there is no gene for the will to live or motivation. Still, I wish Jerome would have had a more significant role other than being a costume for Vincent to wear. Perhaps if he had more of a purpose, he wouldn’t have committed suicide in the end. Either way I can still appreciate the dramatic effect his death had on the viewer and the storyline. I found it rather poetic that Jerome left Vincent a lock of his hair to take with him to space, as if to say that they are both going home, both going to a place where they feel they belong.
I would definitely see Gattaca again. The concept of discrimination is one that never truly gets old. It is relatable in our society and it is not too far-fetched to think that this could be a possibility one day. I just hope that the world pays attention to the Vincent Freemans of the world. After all, there is no gene for the human spirit.