From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction drama film written and directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law with supporting roles played by Loren Dean, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin. The movie's score was composed by Michael Nyman.
The film presents a biopunk vision of a society driven by "new eugenics". Children of the middle and upper classes are "designer babies", genetically engineered in-vitro to be the optimal recombination of their parents' genetic material. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to instantly identify and classify those so created as "Valids" while those conceived by traditional means are derisively known as "faith births", "god children" and, more pejoratively, "In-Valids." “In-valids” who try to enter the “valid” world (by contracting with “valids” to purchase their DNA through collection of blood, urine, hairs, dead skin flakes, etc…) are known as “borrowed ladders” and "de-gene-erates". While genetic discrimination is forbidden by law, in practice it is easy to profile one's genotype resulting in the Valids qualifying for professional employment while the In-Valids who are susceptible to disease are relegated to menial jobs.
The movie draws on concerns over technological developments which facilitate reprogenetics, and the possible consequences of such biotechnology for society. It also explores the theme of destiny, and the ways in which it can/does govern lives. Characters in Gattaca continually battle both with society and with themselves to find their place in the world, and who they are destined to be according to their genes.
"Gattaca" is a word made from the abbreviations for the DNA nucleotide bases Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine. The sequence GATTACA, along with many other short sequences of base pairs, occurs many times throughout the human genome. This is highlighted throughout the opening title sequence and closing credits where the letters A, T, C, and G within words and names are displayed in an alternate typeface.