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Gattaca Film Study Essay

Gattaca is often portrayed as a quest film. A quest film is defined as “a character that is on a journey or adventure with an ultimate goal in mind of completing a task or to obtain an object of significance.” (Merriam-Webster, 2012) The quest often involves overcoming challenges and to do this the character learn something about him/her-self and this then aids them on their “quest”. Being a quest film, Gattaca shares many characteristics that are often found in other movies of a similar genre. Examples of these include – Pirates of the Caribbean and In Time. Pirates of the Caribbean, is told with the protagonist as Captain Jack Sparrow on a quest to help him obtain immortality. The characters in both Pirates of the Caribbean and Gattaca share many similar traits; they are both after a strongly desired goal and will take the necessary risks to succeed. Gattaca, being produced in 1997, had many cutting edge ideas with such vision leading directors of the time.

It was set in what was though the not so distant future of today would look like. It gives us an insight into a world based around the genetically superior, where genes are all that matter. The main character Vincent Freeman has dreamt of becoming an astronaut his whole life but, due to being conceived naturally and receiving a life expectancy of 30 years. He is cast aside in society, labelled a “Degenerate” and “Invalid”. Vincent soon learns he will never be able to move ahead in life; to fulfil his dream Vincent uses a “Borrowed ladder” from a genius named Jerome Eugene Morrow, who is a paraplegic due to an accident overseas. The term a “Borrowed Ladder” comes as the protagonist Vincent impersonates the life of Jerome thus using his identity.

After months of special care, training and changes to his looks, Vincent enters the Aerospace Corporation known as “Gattaca”. Impersonating Jerome, Freeman becomes the company’s top navigator with a perfect record and clean slate by working hard and working hard to keep his real identity a secret; he is chosen to go on a manned spaceflight to Saturn’s moon Titus, but complications arise. One week before departure, when one of the managing directors is bludgeoned to death. An “Invalids” profile; Vincent’s old identity, is uncovered by investigators and this threatens to jeopardise his chances of going to Titan. After managing to avoid being caught by using precautions such as placing samples of DNA supplied by Jerome around Gattaca and even receiving help from a young lady, Irene; with whom Vincent develops feelings for. He ends up finally leaving Earth on due course for Titan. Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides (2011)

Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides (2011)

The Pirates of the Caribbean series are another group of quest movies opened by introducing the goal of the main character, Captain Jack Sparrow. He is always on a quest in search for personal well fortune and benefits. He uses his friends throughout these many adventures, and alike Gattaca, the Protagonist is able to achieve his own desires. During Gattaca, Vincent is aided on several occasions, one being when Irene hides his true identity from the authorities to help him complete his goal/mission. Irene does this; I think because she can understand where he is coming from as she has personal experience suffering in a world where genes are everything. The movie ends with Vincent successfully making it onto the space craft headed to Titan; the ending adds a sense of success but subtly hints to deep sadness with two lines, “They say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star” and “Maybe I’m not leaving, maybe I’m going home”.

The movie reaches a climax when Vincent is almost discovered by his brother (the leading detective on the case), but manages to get past this by telling his brother that “he always gave 110 percent”. The quest is completed, as shown in Pirates of the Caribbean, when Captain Jack Sparrow finally manages to overcome a final obstacle and regain ownership of his beloved ship, the Black Pearl. This is exactly the same in Gattaca with Vincent overcoming the final problem of his identity getting potentially exposed by a medical examiner giving him one last routine urine test. It is shown through a simple line that the examiner has known his real identity all along. He achieves his goal and boards the spacecraft without any further problems Vincent achieving this goal shows to us that no matter what ones, goal or dreams are, overcoming the problems you are faced with will ultimately help you in achieve it.

Gattaca is a good example of a quest movie because it clearly explains what the goal of the protagonist is and once it has established this, it shows how he overcame his many problems to achieve an ultimate goal. There are many attractions for the audience with many special filming techniques and suspenseful moments utilizing a constant beat to add effect and drama. There is a specific scene in the movie where Vincent is meant to be at home sick but instead is unable to be there so he tells Jerome to impersonate him. There is a problem with this, as to open the door and greet the detective, Jerome must climb a stair case. Without the use of his legs Jerome finds this a challenge because he is a paraplegic. The suspense builds as Jerome struggles up the stairs, racing to get to the top before the detectives reach the door.

As you would expect, one last moment effort from Jerome manages to keep the detectives from discovering who he really is. Irene plays a vital role in this scene by acting as if Jerome is Vincent, when she herself is only just finding out the truth. Overall, Gattaca is an excellent example of what a quest film should include. It has a strong story and the director utilizes many techniques with the music, lighting and even camera angles to top it off. The protagonist overcomes challenges; his genes as a place marker for him in society, almost becoming discovered as an “Invalid” and a brother who is close to exposing his secret. I think that the quest, his personal dream of travelling into space is worthwhile as he learns about himself while doing it.


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