"Jerome had been engineered with everything he needed to get into Gattaca, except the desire to do so"
This quote exemplifies how the society is built in such a way that success can only be achieved by the genetically superior. Jerome is genetically engineered, automatically granting him the title 'valid'. However, this is, ironically, not enough to ensure his success. This is because valids such as Jerome, who are guaranteed success, typically lack the desire, drive and purpose from overcoming obstacles. In this way, the quote shows how the society in Gattaca is not ideal, as it discriminates against those who are born naturally and removes purpose from the lives of the elite.
"Eugene suffered under a different burden - the burden of perfection."
This quote illustrates the Dystopian nature of the society in Gattaca. Even those who are guaranteed success inevitably suffer. The juxtaposition between the idealistic connotations of "perfection" and the repetition of "burden" illustrates that no one really benefits from a society where self worth is measured by one's genes.
"This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything from the swim back."
This statement is how Vincent explains he was able to beat his genetically superior brother in a swimming contest. This quote is a testament to human will power, drive and the human spirit. It is at this moment when Vincent becomes aware of his untapped potential and decides to follow his dream of becoming an astronaut, against all odds. Hence, the quote celebrates humanity's ability to strive for greatness.
"For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I'm suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving... maybe I'm going home."
This quote captures the film's focus on science and adventure. Here, Vincent speaks optimistically of his decision to explore the stars. He attributes leaving earth with "going home" in a more real sense, drawing on the scientific ideas that humans are made of stardust. This quote illustrates Vincent's fear at leaving the familiar world behind, but his optimism and expectation outweigh this fear. This crucial quote represents everything that Vincent has achieved and all the obstacles he has overcome, which have enabled him to live his childhood dream and challenge the very nature of his society.
"I'll never understand what possessed my mother to put her faith in God's hands, rather than her local geneticist."
This quote illustrates the lack of humanity in the futuristic society, as well as its clinical and sterile approach to establishing a family. The quote usurps contemporary notions of parenthood, by presenting offspring as the product of scientific intervention, rather than the result of love and intimacy. The quote is ironic as it states that it is better to put faith towards science than God, echoing the focus on science and genetic superiority in Gattaca.
"Jerome Morrow was never meant to be one step down on the poduim."
This quote emphasises how Jerome felt 'cheated' by the societal system. Genetically engineered to be an elite athlete, he was guaranteed athletic success, but ended up coming second place in a swimming competition. The third person quote illustrates Jerome's disdain towards himself, as he is highly critical of his failure and distances himself from society's expectations. The high modality of 'never' also indicates the flaw in the reliance on eugenics as a measure of potential, as Jerome's failure challenged the foundational assumptions of the society.
"There is no gene for the human spirit"
This line cleverly conveys the overarching message of the film - that a person's self worth cannot be measured by their genes. This emphasizes an appraisal of determination, passion and drive as far superior to genetic standing. It echoes the major theme of the film: the importance of humanity and the human spirit.
"Consider God's handiwork; who can straighten what He hath made crooked?" - Ecclesiastes 7:13
This biblical allusion at the beginning of the film introduces vital ideas regarding man's place in the world. The passage from Ecclesiastes 7:13 praises God as ultimate creator. This idea is usurped throughout the film when humans take on the role of god, altering a persons' genes to create an idealized society. This quote immediately encourages us to critique the society in Gattaca.
"Eugene never suffered from the routine discrimination of a 'utero', a 'faith birth' or an 'invalid' as we were called... He suffered under a different burden: the burden of perfection."
If you are told you are perfect, what is there to aspire to? Jerome is an unhappy example of a man given everything. Everything was expected of him, everything should have been possible. And yet, if that is so, what is there to enjoy or savour? Jerome should have been able to succeed at whatever he wanted to, even without much effort, so strong is his genetic makeup. It is interesting that when Vincent goes on his mission, Jerome kills himself. It is as though he was fueled during the film by Vincent's passion and determination. He enjoyed the challenge of it. Unchallenged as he surely must have been with his genetic disposition, there may well have been much to fight for. Coming second in the swimming championships devastates him because for the first time he realizes he is not perfect. Perfection is a blessing and a curse: something that everyone aspires to and that, once achieved, kills the desire that feeds aspiration.
"They've got you looking so hard for any flaw that after a while that's all you see"
This film is interested in what we choose to notice. In society in Gattaca the minutest molecule is the most significant: DNA. So focused is this society on this detail, and on what it means, that they fail to zoom the camera out to see the whole person. Here Vincent explains to Irene how she has been conned. All she can see are the flaws in a person's DNA; what he urges her to do is see the bigger picture. He wants her to see that what he has done is possible and that others could do the same. It is interesting that Vincent, having been contained and restricted for so long by his genetic makeup, should aspire to travel to space. There the camera must zoom out to take in the enormity of the planets and the universe and from there Vincent may also get some space from the tight restrictions of life on Earth.
Gattaca Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Gattaca is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.