Learning Difficulty





Recommended by Title

Recommended by Disability

General: Major Films  
TitleGattaca (1997)
Alternative/Original Title
DisabilityGeneral Genetic engineering
DirectorAndrew Niccol
CastEthan Hawke Uma Thurman Jude Law Alan Arkin Gore Vidal
NotesThe working title of this film was The Eighth Day and was changed to avoid confusion with the French film Le Huitieme jour known in English as The Eighth Day (see Above). Some time in the future genetic engineering has created a 'perfect' world. For the better-off that is, who can choose before birth what their children will become. These perfect people are called "Valids" while those who are born without the benefits of genetics are called "Invalids". These lesser mortals have 'defects' like inferior vision and a shorter life span. You'll be starting to guess the parallels with our present world. But one of these inferior valids, played by Ethan Hawke, has ambitions beyond his abilities. He's hates the society he was born into and sees his escape as a navigator on a space ship. There is only one way to achieve this and he approaches a DNA broker who puts him in contact with a Valid who is paralyzed and will sell his 'genes'. He's well on his way to achieving his journey into space when a mission director is killed and he is among the suspects. The subsequent investigation comes close to blowing his 'cover'. Uma Thurman is the love interest. She's a Valid but she does have a heart defect which grounds her. This film raises issues for debate. The story may seem implausible but the film retains our belief and interest. It juggles with blood and urine and locks of hair and even fingerprint stick-ons so that we are never allowed to forget this is an inferior being trying to enter a superior world. And how ironic that he does this using the superior qualities of someone now using a wheelchair. The implications of this are positive but what we actually see on the screen is less so. Though the guy in the wheelchair does appear to have a good degree of independence. We can't say this for certain because he appears to live in a vacuum. He has no friends. There's no sign of what he actually does now. His whole life appears to be assisting Ethan Hawke's character to fulfill his ambition. This is not a life or death thing, just a guy who wants to join the space programme. We should note also that Hawke's character being born naturally has in our eyes a certain superiority. This despite his 'disability', a heart condition which is visible only to machines and when he's on a treadmill and near to collapse. He is also nearsighted and must wear contact lenses to pass muster in his new environment. So the good guy, Hawke, is disabled especially in this new society and the guy who helps him (for money) is also disabled. Yet even that notion doesn't rest comfortably since the paraplegic looks like a society reject. Well provided for in those ways in which disability acts regulate but shown doing nothing which might make his life fulfilled.

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