Andrew Niccol’s 1997 film Gattaca, set in a dystopian future where genetics are heavily advanced, where you are either an “Invalid” or faith birth are not genetically modified or you are a “Valid” who are genetically modified to be the perfect human who is modified into their future careers from birth. The contrast between “Invalid” and “Valid” is greatly shown by Andrew Niccol throughout the film using clever visual features to demonstrate that the future can be dangerous and has a very similar Nazi Germany resonance to it. With the genetically modified being the better human a similar technique that Hitler used called “New Eugenics” by using genetics to create a better human and if you are not genetically modified to be the “perfect human” you are imperfect, invalid, and are discriminated against but not from your race only from your genes.

In Andrew Niccol’s film, it is set into the future yet we are still able to recognize visuals features he uses that a distinctively from the past especially the cars that he shows us may be electrified but are the models from the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. Niccol has used the cars as a strong and clear visual effect from the early 20th century to display one of his most powerful ideas is that even though the future has become more advanced in genetics using New Eugenics to perfect the human race, which Nazi Germany tried during the early 20th century. Niccol uses these cars from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to remind us the progression isn’t always better, and to show us that this future Niccol has imagined is going to repeat the travesty that happened during Nazi Germany. By which any human is it not genetically perfected will never amount to anything and is considered an Invalid. Although in the film these cars have been electrified to progression and the future scene there is no doubt that there are visually showing us that this alternate reality is following in the same direction of discrimination and new eugenics that already happened in the past, and so the none perfect human would never be treated as an equal only due to his undesirable genes. These cars are a perfect way to get Andrew Niccol’s ideas across and remind us that history could and will repeat itself by using genetics to judge a person and what they will accomplish during their lives. These cars are a perfect way to get Andrew Niccol’s ideas across and remind us that history could and will repeat itself of when Nazi Germany in the early 20th century used genetics to judge a person or to discriminate against. 

Another clever visual Niccol uses to show us history will repeat itself is the clothing style and hairstyle he chooses for Gattaca’s bests from a mixture of the 30’s, 40’s and a bit of the 90’s mixed in. Andrew Niccol has purposely chosen this style of clothing and hair is very distinctively from the 1930’s – 1940’s the sleek back hair the simple black suits and skirts are a clear indication from Niccol that this is a way he puts forth his idea of his early 20th-century history repeating again in the not-to-distant-future. As the movie is set in the future it a direct decision from Andrew Niccol to use the simple suit from the 1930’s what Vincent wears while borrowing Jermomes genes and the clean back skirts that Irene wears is from the 1940’s to show that even in this new, more developed future where New Eugenics have the only say who you are to highlight that this dystopian future will repeat history from the early 20th century. Even the hairstyles are all from the 1930 – 40’s the sleek back dark hair and the curly shoulder length hair are all signs from the early 20th century to prove and back up Niccol’s idea that history will eventually repeat itself.

Gattaca is set in a dystopian future revolves entirely around genetics and one of Andrew Niccol’s biggest idea he tried to push through using visual features to present the fact that the horrible events that happened in the early 20th century especially 30’s and 40’s in Germany when eugenics where heavily enforced by Hitler. Niccol uses many visual features the main one he uses is the stairway inside Jerome’s home the staircase is one of the most clear and recognised visual features Niccol uses to drive his idea of history repetition by using the staircase as a reminder of how this New Eugenics has happened before and will happen again because the staircase in Jerome’s home is a double helix directly representing the genetic advancements as genes are a double helix which in the film driving Niccol’s ideas through the visual features. Obviously the visual feature has a lot of meaning towards Andrew Niccols main idea of early 20th century repeating itself as the staircase revolves a lot around the movie even Jermome with his perfect genetics has a hard time conquering the double helix staircase because of his disability as a direct intention to show that “There is no gene for the human spirit,” as he finally crawls to the top. Gattaca is presented as if you have the perfect genes you will live a successful and meaningful life. This idea has already happened before in Nazi Germany where if you didn’t have the stereotypical blue eyes and blond hair you were experimented on or killed this is shown through the film almost exactly the same way. Where genetics can make you superior is shown heavily especially in the interview scene where all his interview was in his genes.

In conclusion the 1997 film Gattaca by Andrew Niccol has convincingly shown his idea of the early 20th century, Nazi Germany, history repeating itself by using clever visual features to prove his point. Cars, although electrified, are the body of 40’s and 50’s cars straight from history, clothing and hairstyles from the 30’s and 40’s straight from history through a little modified from the 90’s clothes and the obvious visual feature the double helix staircase directly indicating that the New Eugenics stage that happened in the early 20th century that all of these visuals features are correctly used by Niccol to prove to us that history will repeat itself again. Andrew Niccol has even put visual representations into his characters names to represent not early 20th century but late when the Rocket Cassini was launched to Saturns largest moon Titan only a month after the movies release and conveniently Irene’s full name in the film is Irene Cassini Niccol’s visual features are littered throughout the film to show that the New Eugenics of the early 20th century will repeat itself.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. This piece shows a clear understanding of the film and it’s core ideas. The way you’ve organised the ideas provides a good overview of the idea itself and the connection to the 20th century via the actions of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

    As we discussed, remember that the question demands that you make references to specific visual features and how these reinforce the comparison with the 20th Century.

    Remember the film itself, all the notes and proposed structures and example paragraphs (including the task, which outlines a structured planning process) are available on the class website – you can review these in your own time so you’re ready to write when you get to class.

    Do speak to me again if you need further clarification.


  2. Achievement Achievement with Merit Achievement with Excellence
    Develop and structure ideas in formal writing.

    Use language features appropriate to audience and purpose in formal writing.

    Develop and structure ideas convincingly in formal writing.

    Use language features appropriate to audience and purpose with control in formal writing.

    Develop and structure ideas effectively in formal writing.

    Use language features appropriate to audience and purpose with control to command attention in formal writing.


    Some lapses in spelling in syntax interfere with the flow of the piece, however the ideas are sophisticated and often conveyed with clarity.


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