In the film ‘Gattaca’, directed by Andrew Niccol, a warning about the future is presented. Part of this is based on an idea conveyed of genetic engineering and the impact it will have on the future society. This idea shows how advanced, beneficial, technology if used to extreme potential, has the ability to turn society against itself and into a dystopian nightmare. A way that Niccol presents this is through visual concepts and references to the past. He uses the presence of objects and ideas from the past and modifies them to become futuristic. Niccol also uses the significant concept of a helix in the form of a staircase to represent the underlying message of the film about DNA.
In the 1940s, America (where this film ‘Gattaca’ is based) entered WWll. Niccol used this to show that history repeats itself. But in this case, the fight is about the opposing opinions towards the newly gained information and constructed technology related to genetics and DNA. This is the reason for all the references to that time period. Niccol adds futuristic ideas to show that history will repeat itself in the near future, therefore issuing a warning.
When the film ‘Gattaca’ was made in 1997, the story line was projected into what they imagined as the ‘future’ while at the same time incorporating references to the past. Most of the visuals of the film were based in the 40’s decade. From the buildings and events the characters attended to how they dressed and acted. Niccol put a twist on them with futuristic concepts so the film develops a sort of sophisticated vibe. For example using vintage cars but electrifying them. The characters styling is dated, men wearing french cuffed shirts and the women with 40s hairstyles. All this reinforced that the 40’s has significant relation to this film.
A helix staircase is located in the middle of Jerome’s house. The visual concept of having a helix present in the film is to carry on the strong point that society’s opinions of people and their actions are heavily based on their genes. It has a huge influence on how they think and look at an individual. This idea is present to force us to recognise what Niccol wanted us to see, that Vincent Freeman’s (the main character of the film ‘Gattaca’) ambition was the driving force that lead him to overcoming the limiting factor to his life of being born a ‘god child’. Meaning he was conceived and born naturally without the interference of genetic selection and modification. And his damaged DNA/genetics which lead to discrimination from society. This ambition was developed over his life while slowly learning to defy the limitations that were placed on his dreams and goals by society.
All of the buildings in the film ‘Gattaca’ were modernist architecture. Modernist architecture became the dominant style of building in the first half of the 20th century after the WWll. during this time, they were recovering from the great depression, and had limited resources to spend on house construction. This influenced the modernist style of minimalism. It changed the design of buildings from traditional themes to more simple with less establishments. These buildings were tippically asymmetrical using cubic or cylindrical shapes with flat roofs giving them little character. These buildings were comonly open plan and white-grey tones. They were clean and simple.
All of these factors contribute to the warning that Niccol is trying to present. He believes that genetic selection and modification will, in the future, be a danger to the people who aren’t born via that method. And people born by the two different ways will turn on each other, interfering with societies flow, resulting in war, history repeating itself.