Study Guide for Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997)

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Study Guide for Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997)

  1. Do some research about what “eugenics” is, how eugenic ideas are used in different areas such as science and politics, and what moral and ethical debates these ideas have caused. Then examine and discuss what ethical and moral issues “Gattaca” might encourage its viewers to think about.
  2. The film starts with the following two quotes:“Consider God’s handiwork, who can strengthen what he hath made crooked?” Ecclesiastes /“I not only think that we will tamper with Nature, I think Mother Nature wants us to.” Willard Gaylin… What is the significance of these quotes for the film and the audience?
  3. What do the “hypermagnified shots of bodily fragments” (Jackie Stacey’s Masculinity, Masquerade, and Genetic Impersonation: Gattaca’s Queer Vision, 2005, p. 1851) in the credit sequence tell you about the concept of identity discussed in the film?
  4. What is the significance of the name “Gattaca”?
  5. Examine the mise-en-scène used in the space agency Gattaca: the building, the offices, the gymnasium, the uniforms. How do they all contribute to our understanding of the issues the film is dealing with?
  6. What is the significance of having no windows in the gymnasium or in the work stations?
  7. What is the significance of the glass window in Gattaca that Vincent is supposed to clean?
  8. What is the significance of the spiral staircase in Jerome’s apartment?
  9. How is class represented in the film? Comment on the hierarchy in the society.
  10. What do you think about the representation of disabled people in the film? Is it offensive?
  11. What is the significance of the 12-fingered pianist’s name?
  12. In what way(s) can Jerome’s burning himself be regarded as a symbolic act?
  13. Identify the conventions of science fiction and suspense movies in “Gattaca”.
  14. In what ways can Gattaca be regarded as social criticism?
  15. How does the film envisage the future? Positive or negative? Justify your perspective.
  16. Comment on the following quotes from the film: “You wanna know how I did it, Anton? I never saved anything for the swim back.” / “You could go anywhere with this guy’s helix tucked under your arm.” / “They don’t care where you were born. Just how.” /“My real resume was in my cells.” / “Blood has no nationality.”

© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, October 2008