In a world where genetic engineering reigns supreme, we meet Vincent Freeman. His parents are also briefly introduced, and they subtly set the story’s direction.
Vincent’s parents make a counter-cultural, conscious decision that molds a resilient individual in a society where one’s genetic makeup dictates not only their future but possibly their destiny. “Gattaca” feels like a movie about destiny, belonging and our ability to step out of societal norms.
The “problem” with Vincent is that he is like us—you and me—a living, breathing imperfection held to a perfect standard in a society that has already decided his role as “invalid.” It is not impossible to foresee a future where everyone will be born with genetic manipulation.
Switching lenses into theological perspectives, I cannot help but think of the ultimate contrast: how Jesus validates us through an act of love both once and for all upon a piece of wood and in an ongoing process through his defeat of death. Immortality and “perfection” are lofty goals pursued by a notion only measured through physical and intellectual means in the “Gattaca” philosophical landscape.
Despite a rigid, legalistic physical system of perfection, Vincent is born as an oddity. He somehow maintains a dream of soaring among the stars with the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation.
Although this movie doesn’t explicitly tackle the concept of God in its narrative, “Gattaca” still delves into what it means to be human. Thus, we can use this sci-fi movie to contemplate what it means to be made in the image of God. Does perfection even fall into the equation? Any notion of perfection outside of the wonder of God’s transformative work would not be true perfection, so I would reason that an idea of perfection without the concept of being made in the image of God and thus inherent value in who we are is no true idea of perfection and thus not perfection. A concept I will continue to grapple with indeed.
In a world of “valids” and “in-valids,” achieving his goals is almost impossible for Vincent. I appreciate how both his parents’ world-rocking decisions, his brother’s determination to see Vincent remain in his societal lane, and the strict law enforcement of a moralistic genetic code are all underscored by Vincent’s determination, his friendship with Jerome, his pursuit of meaning, and his decision to love despite the risk of being known (and the potential to lose everything).
Vincent carries a depth of vulnerability with him that makes him all the more real, relatable and a good character to reflect upon. Maybe it is in his desire to belong that we see something unique in this film: “It’s funny, you work so hard, you do everything you can to get away from a place, and when you finally get your chance to leave, you find a reason to stay,”.
Thankfully our belonging is founded in the love of Jesus that is a firm foundation for life now and forever, the concept of invalid and valid is not how God views his children. We are made in the image of God and that is a heavy, beautiful and wonder-filled concept.
These are concepts to ponder and reflect upon. Here are some scriptures that may be helpful:
Ephesians 4:24 (NIV):
“and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:10 (NIV):
“and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV):
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kaNjGTBr9g