Analyse how the beginning and end show a character’s change in the visual or oral text(s). Gattaca is a dystopian film directed by Andrew Niccol. It is set in the ‘not-too-distant future’ where discrimination is based on your genetic makeup and has become the defining factor of your societal class. One character that changed throughout the film is Jerome Morrow. The beginning portrayed him as a cold and depressed valid that had been in an unfortunate accident, costing him his legs.
As the film progressed, due to Vincent, Jerome became more compassionate and caring, although still depressed over his failure to live up to his genetic potential. Niccol used camera angles, dialogue, and symbolism to effectively show Jerome’s change of character. Jerome is first seen as a pessimistic valid that just happened to lose to ‘fate’. Before we meet him there is a voiceover of Vincent explaining the process of becoming a ‘borrowed-ladder’ and how “for the genetically superior, success is easier to attain but is by no mean guaranteed…
And when for one reason or another, a member of the elite falls on hard times, their genetic identity becomes a valued commodity. ” We first see Jerome underneath a double helix shaped staircase as he appears from behind a pillar as if hiding from sight. The staircase represents DNA and how his is perfect, however, he is in a wheelchair due to an accident overseas, so the staircase shows that he is beneath his own perfection.
He was smoking as he emerged from the shadows which conveyed how he felt ashamed of his disability and was trying to drown out his problems not only by smoking but also by drinking. Niccol used a high angle shot when filming Jerome to show how people with disabilities are generally seen to be inferior. This showed how people are ableist and believe that disabled people are unable to achieve the same things that ‘normal people can, which related to Vincent and his ‘invalid’ genes, as he was also treated as inferior.
Jerome was depressed due to the overbearing weight placed on his shoulders by society. They believed that your genes determined everything about you and because Jerome’s were so perfect, they convinced Jerome that he was meant for nothing but first place. Vincent mentioned this unfair pressure in a voiceover when he was saying how he’d suffered discrimination because of his invalid genes but “Eugene never suffered from the routine discrimination of a ‘utero’, or a ‘faith birth’ or an ‘invalid’, he suffered under a different burden, the burden of perfection.
Jerome struggled to live up to the expectations set for him when he was conceived, of being the ‘best of the best’ as predicted by his genes. This is symbolized by the medal he received for second place. In one scene he shows it to Vincent who is impressed. Jerome, however, is clearly upset at the fact that he was not good enough for first even with his enhanced and superior genes, claiming that “Jerome Morrow was never meant to be one step down on the podium. ” This showed how this failure meant everything to him because he was expected to be perfect.
The receiving of the medal led to Jerome’s downward spiral which was represented by him living at the bottom of the double helix staircase as he was now at the bottom of the genetic ladder. Niccol used Jerome to show the danger of these immense pressures placed upon people and how the manipulation of genetics to ‘improve’ a person may not always work in the long term. Although genetic engineering is not necessarily a bad thing as it can be used to cure and avoid deadly, inheritable diseases, where do you draw the line?
The end of the film showed both Jerome and Vincent leaving Earth. Vincent in his spaceship as he achieved his dream of going into space, and Jerome in the incinerator as he purified himself of his flaws. Although throughout the film Jerome had become more caring and became determined for Vincent to achieve his dream, he still could not get over his disappointment in himself for not being good enough. Before Vincent left for space, Jerome showed him the fridges full of urine and blood samples that he had organised for him.
When Vincent asked why Jerome had done all of that he said “so Jerome will always be here when you need him,” as he was travelling too. This demonstrated the immense character change from the beginning of the film. Jerome had originally been negative and ring towards Vincent but by the end he was so devoted to him that he literally gave his life up so that Vincent could become him. As Vincent walked down the open bars to the spaceship, showing that he was no longer barred because of himself, Jerome prepared for his own trip.
Niccol used a mid shot of Jerome sitting in incinerator with the symbolism of bars as if he was blocked from society because he was no longer good enough. He seemed calm and neutral as he turned the handle to trigger the incinerator as he was finally free from the heavy weight that society had put upon him. unca Jerome’s change of character was shown through the contrast of his feelings towards Vincent at the beginning and end of the film.
Niccol used dialogue, camera angles, and symbolism to effectively show the transition from uncaring to devoted friend and supporter. Vincent had shared his dream and made good use of Jerome’s body when he couldn’t. Through the character of Jerome, the negative impact of genetic enhancement was conveyed, showing the dangers of the pressures that society places on seemingly perfect people. In reality no one is perfect and people shouldn’t be pressured to live up to a certain expectation just because their genes say that they can.