Gattaca Movie and its Themes Explained with Character Analysis: What Happened to Jerome and Vincent?
There are only a few science fiction movies which despite having an excellent plot, are character oriented and Gattaca is one of them. The base of the story is just profound and then it builds a very beautiful structure with its characters and philosophy.
Gattaca is one of those movies which focuses more on its characters. The movie sets up the science fiction aspect very well but it even uses that to develop its themes and philosophy. The plot of Gattaca is fairly simple and straightforward with a fewer subplots. There's not much going on in this movie which helps the director, Andrew Niccol, focus on the specific essential things.
Gattaca at its heart is the story about an “invalid” Vincent Freeman in a not too distant future. Vincent was destined to be failure, no matter how hard he tried or how well he proved himself to be better than anyone, everybody just ignored him and demotivated him more, even his own father. You can easily connect it to the real life. Some people, from the moment they are born, have to play their roles according to the society. If it deems them as a competent individual, they will always have pressure to fulfil the expectations. But if the society doesn’t see someone worthy enough and labels him as a kid who is destined to be a failure, then he will always live with a huge self-doubt. Heck, there are even parents who have already decided the career of their child just after his first kick inside the womb. Despite being released 25 years ago, Gattaca still hits home as it takes a jab at our "perfect wanting society" and that's what makes this movie such a commendable piece of cinema. So, let’s get a bit deeper and explore the movie’s themes, lore and philosophy.
Gattaca movie's themes explained
In a not-too-distant future, people are NOT discriminated against their race, colour and looks but on the basis of genetics and how they are conceived. All new-borns are divided into two categories: Valid and In-valid. Valid people are those who are genetically engineered to have the best quality possible in them. Eugenics in this world, can eradicate any potential prejudicial conditions like baldness, myopia or alcoholism giving parents a kid who is blessed with all gifts. But the children born with natural reproductive methods are filled with defects in their body and are regarded as In-Valid for the "perfect wanting society". The movie doesn’t really give any specific reason for these imperfections but I believe before implanting this genetic engineered system, people must have noticed that due to some problems in their DNA, children conceived through (then) normal reproductive ways always had some diseases/defects in them and were not much beneficial for the society. So, they found a way to make the best of people through a different conceiving method as shown in the film.
This genetic engineering thing was indeed an innovative method to solve a bigger problem in the society BUT that shouldn’t have come with discrimination between individuals, which makes me want to talk about the two main characters in this movie.
Character Analysis of Gattaca
The society always wants perfect and "valid" individuals but it doesn't understand the beauty of imperfection. Just look at Vincent, he knew he had some defects and he worked hard to overcome them. He even managed to beat these so called “perfect” lab tested people. If Vincent didn't have these imperfections, if he had everything handed to him on a silver plate, he wouldn't have been dedicated and reached this level. Nobody believed he could live his dream of going to space, but he was determined enough to overcome his limits and that's what makes this character so special.
Just by working towards and fulfilling his dream, Vincent also became a gleam a hope for the other people. In the end, Doctor Lamar even says that his son was “not all that they promised” and he looks up to Vincent to someday be able to work in Gattaca. If Vincent returns safely from his mission and discloses himself as an in-valid, then he might also pose a challenge to this whole discriminating system.
2. Jerome Eugene Morrow
On the opposite side of spectrum, we have Jude Law's Jerome (Eugene) Morrow. From his childhood, he was told how he has a genetic quotient second to none, how he can achieve unimaginable results and there was always a huge pressure on him. So, when he came second on swimming and got a silver medal, he had this huge self-doubt. He was always perceived to be the best but when he saw someone, other than himself, succeeding him, the pressure got to him and he became depressed. He also reveals, that he was sober and willingly jumped in front of the car. He wanted to commit suicide just because the society always expected extraordinary things from him, which he couldn't fulfil.
Let me tell you, this was tragic as he also incinerates himself at the end of the movie. Without his vital organs, legs, not working anymore, the life was grimmer for him. He worked hard his whole life just to reach at a moment where he can’t really do anything to improve it, until the introduction of Vincent in his life. With Vincent came the hope of finally achieving something significant. Vincent lent Jerome his dream and Jerome lent Vincent his body. Vincent was like a second life to him; he can now finally do something good in this world and achieve his purpose. Even though, after the accident, Jerome didn’t have the capabilities to achieve his dream but if he could help someone else to do that instead, then his life would be sort of complete. I was waiting for this movie to turn Jerome into an evil guy in disguise, but I’m so glad it didn’t take this route.
Jerome finally achieved his purpose by letting Vincent go to space and live his dream but now he felt like he didn’t have any reason to hold on to his life. And with Vincent gone for a whole year, Jerome incinerated himself as he finally felt fulfilling. This was a bittersweet ending, but works very well with the themes of the movie.
Gattaca Movie's Themes - Jealousy
3. Anton Freeman (Vincent's Brother)
I don't see much discussion about this but I believe this film also talks about the society's pressure and how it can lead to jealousy. The film establishes this through the characters of Irene and Vincent's brother Anton. Anton was born through genetic engineering and just like every kid conceived in the same way, he was perfect. Can you name me one parent who doesn't want his/her kid to be the best? Anton's father believed him in so much that he gave him his own name which he couldn't do to Vincent. So, Anton was always presumed to be better than his brother so when Vincent finally achieved everything he dreamt of, Anton became jealous because he was never meant to do that. I didn’t expect Anton to be THE detective but it served the story well. He got to see the length which Vincent would go to achieve his dream, in close proximity.
4. Irene Cassini
Irene was a love interest for Vincent but still she had a better character development compared to that of many modern movies. Her character was not in the movie just for the sake of adding a romantic angle, instead she very well fits with the themes of the movie. Irene always thought of Vincent as someone incredibly talented, to confirm which she had him sequenced to read his profile. Both of them had the same dream but Irene was far away from it because she was “likelihood of heart failure". To me, she seemed to be a bit jealous of Vincent and her initial attraction towards him was the result of this jealousy and thinking of Vincent as someone superior to her. But during their time at the rooftop, she realized that Vincent was one of the few people, who liked her just the way she is and did not care about her imperfections.
Due to her insecurities, she gave Vincent her hair sample if he wanted to find out more about her, but he declined and, in that moment, she saw the true man behind him. Then, as expected, she was shocked when Vincent finally revealed his true identity to her but his passion and determination enchanted her too. He even says this to her: “They have got you looking so hard for any flaw that after a while that's all that you see. For whatever it's worth, I'm here to tell you that it is possible.” The beauty of this line and what it means for Irene is impeccable.
If you hadn’t guessed it till now, let me tell you I’m a huge fan of such thematic movies and Gattaca hit the right spot for me. In fact, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War ranks in top of my MCU movies list, just because of its profound themes. So, Gattaca is an enchanting movie which will forever hold a special place in my heart. Despite being in sci-fi genre, it’s ability to connect with personal lives of the audience is applaudable. People will always find a way to demotivate you, to tell you that you are not good enough but it is up to you to prove them wrong and do what you are capable of.
This is the end and that’s all what I wanted to say about this movie. Just like the movie, I made this explanation a bit character-oriented and tried to explain the themes through these incredible characters. I hope after reading this article, you have a better understanding of the movie and appreciate it as much as I do.