This time, we’re ascending a borrowed ladder after watching Gattaca and along the way we wonder if this is really the future, why everyone is dressed like they’re on Mad Men, are genetics the next wave of discrimination, and what’s it like living in a post-sex world? Let’s dig in…
Gattaca Movie Cast and Crew
Directed by Andrew Niccol: Prior to taking on Gattaca, Niccol had built a career directing television ads and took on the film industry in 1997 in his directorial debut while also writing the screenplay. He’s since gone on to write The Truman Show and direct films like Simone, Lord of War, In Time and Anon.
Danny DeVito served as a producer for the film. He has had great success in this avenue of his career as he’s produced films like Pulp Fiction, Reality Bites and Erin Brockovich
Ethan Hawke as Vincent: Hawke has enjoyed a steady career since the mid 80’s and his performance in Gattaca has certainly aided in that. He had previously starred in films like Dead Poet’s Society and Reality Bites and really enjoyed a breakthrough following Gattaca. He has since starred in films like Training Day, The Purge, Boyhood and First Reformed.
Uma Thurman as Irene: Thurman also enjoyed sustain success in Hollywood while serving as Quentin Tarantino’s muse after her breakthrough Oscar nominated performance in Pulp Fiction. While some of her film choices are questionable, no one has questioned her acting ability.
Jude Law as Jerome: Gattaca was Law’s real breakthrough performance and has continued to star in great projects in the twenty years since its release like The Talented Mr. Ripley, Enemy at the Gates, Road to Perdition, Sherlock Holmes and entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain Marvel. He gets a great opportunity to show off his acting skills here as an engineered man who is struggling with the “perfection” he was given.
A Brief History on Eugenics
The primary “science” shown in the film is that of eugenics, or the practice of selective breeding to eliminate certain “undesirable” traits. Those words are in quotes for a reason and we’ll get to that. The concept itself has roots in ancient times when Spartan elders would inspect every newborn boy to determine if it was suitable for the warrior lifestyle. The actually word “eugenics” emerged from an unlikely source; Charles Darwin. Not the man himself, but from his half-cousin named Francis Galton who sought to apply Darwin’s theory of evolution to humans.
Beginning in the early 20th Century, eugenics was gaining traction at universities and societies were formed to encourage eugenics as a form of parental responsibility. The British formed a society in 1907 with America following in 1921. International conferences were held that even enlisted religious figures to support the idea of eugenics with many countries adopting sterilization procedures for mental patients in the 20’s and 30’s. It seemed that everyone was taken in by this “science” with Winston Churchill among one of the more vocal supporters in the United Kingdom.
However, attitudes began to shift against eugenics when the Nazis took power in Germany. Ernst Rüdin, a Nazi who helped form the scientific basis for the racist policies of the Third Reich, was never prosecuted for the propagation of these ideas. The horrors of the Holocaust do not need to be discussed here. but let’s just say that it is truly one of the most horrible things ever documented in history. Many ethnic groups and “undesirables” that were deemed by the Nazis were targeted for eugenics, forced into camps and were either killed or became part of horrific experiments.
Needless to say, people came around to just how awful the idea of “eugenics” could be and has now been dubbed to be a pseudoscience. As discussed in the podcast show, our hosts debate whether or not eugenics could be a good thing (i.e. in the way of eliminating certain diseases or weaknesses), but inevitability,