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GATTACA is set in a future where there are two classes of people: 'Valids', whose parents have selected their genetic attributes before birth, and the lower-status 'In-valids' who are the result of natural conception. Even more despised are those with 'borrowed ladders' - individuals who masquerade as others by buying samples of their DNA.

The hero of GATTACA is Vincent (Ethan Hawke) who tries to overcome his imperfect genetic heritage to fulfil his dream of becoming an astronaut. He assumes the genetic identity of Jerome (Jude Law), a crippled former athlete who provides him with samples of his 'superior' DNA. The deception looks as though it will suceed until the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation's mission director is murdered, and Vincent falls under suspicion.

Add to this a romance between Vincent and Irene (Uma Thurman) plus superb photography, and you have the recipe for an entertaining film. Unfortunately and perhaps undeservedly, GATTACA was not a great box-office success and today few people have heard of it.

The distributors of GATTACA arranged a private screening when the film was released in British cinemas several years ago. They anticipated that the story would prove useful for those in education who might use it to stimulate discussion about modern human genetics. But much as we enjoyed the film at the time and despite several favourable reviews, we considered its educational potential limited.

However, as technologies such as pre-implantation embryo selection have become more common and as the human genome project has been completed (in 1997 barely 2% of human DNA had been sequenced), the main thesis behind GATTACA has gained greater plausibility. As an educational tool, therefore, this film has improved with age.

The more recent release of the DVD version of GATTACA provided several previously-unseen clips that had ended up on the cutting-room floor. They reveal that the original scenes would have raised many more ethical issues, and explain why the actors on the DVD's accompanying documentary thought that the film would break new ground. We suspect that it was thought that cinema audiences, particularly in the USA, might not react favourably to a film that touched, however gently, on topics such as abortion, homosexuality and the genetic modification of human embryos.

Sadly, GATTACA is now rarely available in DVD shops in the UK, although it can sometimes be ordered specially. It's a beatifully-crafted film in its own right and and it was probably before its time in terms of the complex issues it tries to address.

Unfortunately, it cannot be shown in its entirety to audiences in schools without infringing the film studio's copyright, but we urge you to obtain a copy now if you have the opportunity. Although it's a interpretation of a much older story by Phillp K. Dick, Steven Spielberg's recent film 'Minority report', suggests that GATTACA could have been the beginning of a new genre.

John Schollar and Dean Madden
National Centre for Biotechnology Education
The University of Reading
Reading RG6 6AP
The United Kingdom

Official GATTACA Web site
http://www.gattaca.com  FUNKA,R INTE ???????????????

Sidansvarig: Sven Toresson|Sidan uppdaterades: 2016-07-13

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