Practice Paragraph Analysis

“Describe at least one idea that changed you perspective or point of view in the film” 

Mr Waugh’s example: As is common to all dystopias, the film Gattaca by Andrew Niccol deals with elements of our society that are discomforting and project these into a future where they are followed through to their natural conclusion. Genetic selection is the target for Niccol’s moral tale; and alongside his exploration of where our genetic technology might take us, he has also presented a number of visual motifs that direct our attention back to the early 20th century and its modernism and preoccupation with Eugenics. Arguably, nowhere is the idea that we are not defined by our genetic make-up more obvious than in the scenes in Vincent and Jerome’s house that revolve around their helix staircase. The two men are presented quite literally in relation to a representation of human DNA, forcing us to confront the ideas that Niccol most wants us to

Statements, evidence, explanation

My attempt: In the film Gattaca by Andrew Niccol, ideas or problems arising from society that bring up discomfort or controversy are portrayed in a futuristic display, enabling us to envision the possible outcomes if we as a human race don’t changed our morals for the better. Genetic selection is the theme or main idea that the story follows and through the use of directly referencing the commonly appearing helix staircase in Vincent and Eugene’s home, the idea of genetic selection is reenforced even more so to the audience. The two characters (Eugene + Vincent) are represented throughout the film as different strands of human DNA. Eugene is a perfect born – his DNA presents no flaws that could limit his any ambition. Vincent on the other hand is of god born and his DNA shows flaw after flaw. The staircase in their home could be seen as a replica of Vincent’s DNA, as in this scene Eugene devotes his everything to help Vincent achieve his goal by climbing up the staircase. Also, at the end of the scene after the inspector and Irene have left, Vincent is shown standing underneath the stairs looking up to hear them leave. This illustrates the limits to Vincent’s capabilities and portrays Eugene’s DNA as superior to Vincent’s. This again, addresses Andrews overall theme of genetic superiority, and through the use of the helix staircase the audience can further grasp this concept.


The 1997 film Gattaca by Andrew Niccol is set in a dystopia future where being anything less than genetically perfect causes you to be a disadvantaged in life. The film tells us that there are some things that genetics can’t determine. Arguably the most important of these is ambition. At the climax of the film, Jerome, who no longer has the use of his legs after an earlier suicide attempt, is shown dragging himself up a helix staircase to rescue the genetically ‘invalid’ character Vincent from being discovered by the authorities. Many point of view shots are used to reinforce Jerome’s struggle, which, because it’s literally with a helix, symbolises the destructive dominate of genetics in their society. This reinforces the view that apparently benign genetic selection practises could rob human society of the very forces that we value the most.

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