Friday, May 02, 2008

Gattaca: Ahead of its time

I was fascinated to learn about the bill passed in Congress that seeks to prevent discrimination based upon our DNA. As the NYT article notes, there have been "virtually" no documented cases of genetic discrimination, but it's not that people haven't been worried about the possibilities. I immediately thought of one of my favorite movies, Gattaca, which I find now is more than a decade old. This movie, set in the not-so-distant future and starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law and Ernest Borgnine, envisions a slick and stylish future (it was nominated for an Oscar in art direction) where people are genetically engineered to their parents' desire. Those born the natural way (called "degenerates") come into the world at an immediate disadvantage. I'm not sure why I love this movie so much - the look (some scenes were filmed around Frank Lloyd Wright's breathtaking Marin County Civic Center), the memorably haunting music (by the composer Michael Nyman, who I noticed did some work for Man on Wire), the acting and costumes, perhaps - but something about the story, the idea of a man who refuses to let his raw material (read: genetic makeup) get in the way of his dreams appeals to me on some level. It's a bit cerebral, but I recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.

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