Gattaca is a science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It is about a man’s struggle to follow his dream despite being pre-determined by the society in which he lives to not be able to achieve it. Gattaca shows that people can in fact exceed the potential that society and their genes place on them. This is seen in the characters of Vincent and Director Joseph who both exceed their expected potential. Director Joseph’s claim that humans cannot exceed their potential when referring to the navigators at Gattaca is clearly false because Vincent and has infact exceeded his potential.
Vincent is concieved naturally without the help of genetic engineering technology which gives geneticists the ability to choose, what genes they want to keep in the fetus and what genes they want to eliminate based on the parent’s choice and budget. Because he is concieved naturally which is considered an unorthodox form of reproduction by Vincent’s society, he is born with a high probability of many genetic problems and defects such as manic depression, attention deficit disorder, heart disorder, myopia and is born with a life expectancy of 30. years. As Vincent grows older he falls in love with the cosmos and decides to pursue a career in space but is quickly rebuked by his parents because of his inferior genetic characteristics specifically his heart disorder. Despite this negative feedback from his parents he decides to apply at Gattaca hoping that he won’t be discriminated against because of his genetic profile. However Vincent’s hope shatters as his application is declined, and is forced to work as a cleaner at Gattaca.
When his fellow workmate asks him why he cleans the screen immacutely he responds arrogantly by saying “If the glass is clean, it’ll be easier for you to see me when im on the other side of it”. Because he is not following his dream, Vincent decides to become a ‘barrowed ladder’ which is a person who uses the genetic identity of another for a purpose such as getting a particular job or in Vincent’s case getting into Gattaca. Vincent borrows the indentity of Jerome Morrow a professional swimmer born genetically engineered up to perfection.
Jerome has been hit by a moving vechicle which has paralyzed him from the waist down and thus making him unable to swim anymore. Jerome Morrow supplies Vincent with blood, urine, hair and skin samples so that he is able to get into Gattaca. Vincent passes the interview which is a urine test, and quickly becomes one of Gattaca’s elite navigators and achieves his dream of going to space, despite being born with genes that pre-determined him to be lower and inferior member of society, he manages to chieve the impossible – getting into a prestigious space academy and achieves his dream of becoming a space navigator.
Vincent however is not the only one who has exceeded his genetic potential. In the society in which Vincent lives, the elite or the people with the perfect genome are considered to be not only genetically perfect but also morally perfect. An example of this is depicted vividly in the movie when Vincent’s eyebrow sample containing invalid genes is found near the crime of the murderer mission director. Vincent is quickly regarded as the main suspect in the crime simply because is an invalid – a person born naturally through sexual intercourse.
The assumption that is made is that people who are valids or people who have “perfect” genes cannot commit an imperfect immoral act such as murder and therefore the main suspect has to be by definition an invalid. This assumption however is false because the person responsible for the murder turns out to be Director Joseph himself. Director Joseph is a good example of a person who exceeds his potential by comiting an act of murder.
Before Joseph is convincted of murder and while he was being questioned he told the detectives that “There isn’t a violent bone in my body” which is a classic manifestation of what how Vincent’s society views people with perfect genes as morally perfect people. Because Direct Joseph has in a sense rebelled against his genes (assuming that morality is a genetic characteristic) he has exceeded his potential and proves that ‘perfect’ genes does not necessarily equal high rectitude.
In conclusion, the film Gattaca shows that people can and do exceed their potential. This is seen in the characters of Director Joseph and Vincent who both exceed the potential that society has given them. Vicent exceed his potential by getting into Gattaca even though he is born genetically inferior and considered a lower class member of society while Director Joseph exceeds his potential by commiting the act of murder which is not expected and not ‘programmed’ in his genes.