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Cruelty in Gattaca

In: Film and Music

Submitted By ignoreme
Words 709
Pages 3
Gattaca presents a chilling vision of a “not-too distant future”. A future in which, despite numerous safety checks and precautions being taken, human greed and selfishness endangers the happiness, progress, and very souls of humanity. I am referring, of course, to the criminal injustice of a man committing fraud in order to secure his right to pilot a group of five other people on a potentially dangerous mission while suffering from a heart condition which could kill him (and, by inevitable extension, them) at any moment. Though Gattaca tries very hard to paint him as a hero, Vincent Freeman is despicably self-centered, and stands to ruin a great many lives, if one considers his actions in the film through a serious lens, rather than a dramatic one.
It’s not surprising that many people can watch the movie while missing this detail - it makes every effort to show a world in which individual freedom is suppressed, and must triumph. It hardly goes a scene without inviting us to consider the plight of gifted ten-fingered piano players, unable to produce the currently fashionable music, or brilliant minds restricted to menial work because of their genius’ natural origins. It is a setting brilliantly suited to the story of a man unjustly disregarded attaining the dream he so richly deserves. This makes it somewhat unfortunate that it is actually the story of an unchained sociopath destroying everything in his way.
Vincent’s case isn’t like the ones discussed above. He isn’t being held back from his dream by some arbitrary stereotypes or jaded aesthetic standards. He has a real medical condition which means that his heart may fail at any moment, starting a few months before his space mission. We first hear about this at the moment of his birth, and as I said above, for all of the social ills of the world of Gattaca, nothing in the film indicates their medical science is often wrong, just wrongly applied. Moreover, despite a lifetime spent swimming, doing sit-ups while hanging upside down, and generally remaining in stellar shape, Vincent collapses gasping (and suffering from an irregular heart rhythm) after only twenty minutes of moderately-fast jogging. These provide clear evidence that he is not merely an “invalid” in the sense of society’s silly outlook - he is actually an invalid, life-threateningly ill.
And what happens if that illness results in his death during his mission? The exact nature of “Jerome”s work on the spacecraft isn’t entirely clear, since somehow, he is an astronaut mere days away from his mission who spends the majority of his time sitting at a desk and typing at a computer. We can assume it involves astrogation, since his ability to chart courses is praised by his supervisor - by the same token, it would appear that there is no reliable way for computers or mission control to plot a course for the ship while it’s away.Therefore, should his illness actually kill him (as there is every probability that it will) within the next year, it is quite possible that this will spell death for the rest of his crew - a crew of people who also spent their lives building towards this event, just as Vincent did, with the only difference being that they did not perpetrate fraud or recklessly endanger lives in order to do it.
But Gattaca isn’t concerned with those people. Much like Vincent himself, it sees the search for individual freedom as pertaining to just a single individual. Just as we are expected to have no curiosity about Anton’s efforts to be successful in spite of his “inferior” enhancements, or whether got to taste any success of her own, or if Eugene could have taken a better lesson from Vincent’s travails than to kill himself when they were done, we are expected not to consider the needs and achievements of anyone outside of this one man. They tidily remove themselves as they no longer serve his narrative arc, and Jerome’s fellow astronauts must hope that, with that narrative arc completely resolved, Jerome himself is not removed, leaving them to die, unmourned by a film whose chilling vision of the future is surpassed only by its dim take on human empathy.

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