Presentation of Fictional Future in Andrew Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ and Nancy Fulda’s ‘Movement'

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Science fiction texts imagine a future where technological boundaries are pushed and often discuss the costs of these advancements on humanity. By extrapolating from trajectories of present concerns that arise as a result of the negative evolution of technology, the endurance and power of the human spirit is revealed. Andrew Niccol’s 1997 film ‘Gattaca’, introduces the societal ideology of genetic determinism that discriminates individuals based on their genetic makeup. Whereas, Nancy Fulda’s 2011 short story ‘Movement’ reveals how a society has distorted the unique identity of a character by creating a derogatory term for one’s extraordinary behavior, temporal autism. While ‘Gattaca’ discusses the limiting effects of discrimination based on an individual’s DNA, ‘Movement’ explores the conflict between conforming to the expectations of a homogenous society and accepting one’s unique identity. However, both texts present two separate characters that are limited by their restrictive environments but still display resilience and determination.

Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ uncovers a new form of discrimination, where one’s DNA determines an individual’s position in society’s social hierarchy. Through the main protagonist Vincent who conceals his identity, Niccol’s presents a future where discrimination will not solely be limited to racial or gender prejudice, which is prevalent both historically and in today’s society. The close-up shots of the ID cards introduce viewers into the world of ‘Gattaca’, where society is divided into two distinct classes of ‘valids’ and ‘in-valids’. Similar to the society of ‘Movement’ which coins the term ‘temporal autism’ as an imaginary variant of autism, disparaging names are given to those conceived naturally, such as ‘defectives’ or ‘de-gene-erates’. The infinity symbol, representative of one’s self as a ‘valid’, symbolizes the endless possibilities that is predetermined from birth. This is contrasted by the cross symbol for ‘in-valids’, suggesting that their natural identities determined by God’s hands are inferior. Since birth, Vincent is compared to his brother Anton, conceived through genetic selection. The overhead shot of the two characters swimming where Vincent struggles with seaweed in his path while Anton’s path is clear, serves as a symbolic reminder that Vincent’s genetic inferiority will always be an obstacle that denies him of any opportunities to discover his true potential. For this reason, Vincent adopts the identity of Jerome, who offers him the chance to fulfil his lifelong aspirations of space travel. A deliberate parallel is constructed in the final scenes of the film through the constant cuts between Vincent’s triumph and Jerome’s tragic demise. This scene reveals that despite being given the opportunity from birth to ‘prosper’, Jerome undeniably suffers under the burden of perfection, disproving society’s basis for their discrimination. Hence, by exploring a fictional future that exaggerates the advancements of genetic modification, Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ evidently comments on present day discrimination and how it can undermine one’s potential in society.

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Conversely, Fulda’s short story ‘Movement’ is set in a potential future where an individual’s unique identity is considered ‘unorthodox’ by the world’s standards and is pejoratively referred to as ‘temporal autism’. Through the vibrant imagery, “billowing layers of cumulous blazing with refracted oranges and red”, readers are introduced to the protagonist, Hannah, who views the world through a different and extraordinary lens. Although Hannah is given the choice to conform to the expectations of a homogenous society that promises success, the rhetorical question, “I wonder, if the plant had been offered the certainty of mediocrity rather than the chance of greatness, would it have accepted?” depicts her uncertainty as she must decide whether to change or accept her predetermined unique traits. The Venus fly trap that bears a “magnificent blossom” stands as a metaphor for Hannah’s potential yet “the ordinary stem, too spindly to support this innovation” represents her dichotomous society that rejects individuality. Throughout the story, the duality of glass is used to exemplify her unique personality as Hannah constantly compares herself to it, however simultaneously acts as an obstacle – “I am not static, no more than the large glass window that lights the breakfast table”.

Both ‘Movement’ and ‘Gattaca’ portray characters whose societies have deemed them to be inadequate. However, unlike ‘Gattaca’, where Vincent decides to change his identity, in ‘Movement’, Hannah decides not to change and maintain her true self as she begins a new journey of self-discovery through ballet. The repetition of “I do not want new shoes” in the final line embodies her decision to embrace her unique identity. Hence, the futuristic setting of ‘Movement’ largely reflects our present society which posits the notion that an individual's success isn’t confined to society’s expectations, rather, by one’s determination to preserve their unique identity.

Overall, Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ and Fulda’s ‘Movement’ present fictional future by amplifying trajectories of present concerns to discuss the consequences on humanity. Both texts are set in restrictive environments that test the characters’ determination and drive for success. Effectively, ‘Gattaca’ delves into a society’s suppressive ideology that an individual’s DNA dictates their success in life while ‘Movement’, explores the conflict between conforming to a homogenous or choosing to embrace one’s unique identity.

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Presentation of Fictional Future in Andrew Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ and Nancy Fulda’s ‘Movement’. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/presentation-of-fictional-future-in-andrew-niccols-gattaca-and-nancy-fuldas-movement/
“Presentation of Fictional Future in Andrew Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ and Nancy Fulda’s ‘Movement’.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/presentation-of-fictional-future-in-andrew-niccols-gattaca-and-nancy-fuldas-movement/
Presentation of Fictional Future in Andrew Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ and Nancy Fulda’s ‘Movement’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/presentation-of-fictional-future-in-andrew-niccols-gattaca-and-nancy-fuldas-movement/> [Accessed 23 Apr. 2024].
Presentation of Fictional Future in Andrew Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ and Nancy Fulda’s ‘Movement’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jan 31 [cited 2024 Apr 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/presentation-of-fictional-future-in-andrew-niccols-gattaca-and-nancy-fuldas-movement/
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