main title sequence for Columbia Pictures
Michael Riley designed the main title sequence for Gattaca – Andrew Niccol’s science fiction drama about a society in the near future where one’s social class is determined by one’s genetic profile. Genetically engineered humans – in the film called “valids” are favored, and “in-valids” – those conceived the natural way – are discriminated against.
The main character, played by Ethan Hawke, is an in-valid who poses as a “valid”, as he pursues his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut, a position reserved for genetically perfect humans only. The only thing that could expose his true genetic make-up is his DNA, which is of course present in all human organic material – an eyelash, a hair, or a skin cell. The letters G, T, C and A highlighted in the opening sequence represent the four DNA bases (Guanine, Thymine, Cytosine, Adenine).
In the guise of a science fiction film, Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca raises issues about human stamina, the limitations caused by classifications, and real identity versus perception. It relates a young man’s lifetime quest to become an astronaut in a futuristic setting that disallows progression of inadequate humans to higher societal ranks. Not having the genetically engineered superiority that his brother had, Vincent (Ethan Hawke) abandons his family and his hopeless past for an illegal alternative — he buys the genetic material of paraplegic Jerome Morrow (Jude Law) to obtain a position at Gattaca space center, where he will get the chance to fulfill his dream of space exploration. Co-habitants of a pristinely spotless condo, Jerome’s weakness for alcohol becomes apparent, while Vincent’s relentless pursuit of his dream maintains camaraderie between them. While Vincent prepares for his flight into space, a mission director gets murdered, and Vincent becomes a suspect, much to the dismay of the intrigued Irene (Uma Thurman), whose heartache serves as reflective of other characters in the film. He finds himself plagued by the thoughts of being framed, but more urgently that his true identity will be revealed, the consequential thwarting of his dreams by either one equally devastating.
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