What ideas are shared between Orwell's 1984 and Andrew Niccol's film Gattaca? 

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both the movie and the text are of course examples of dystopia. Although there are many differences between these two different visions of the future, one connection that can be usefully made is the way in which both future worlds present a universe in which your life is dictated by circumstances beyond your control. The class system in 1984, for example, is something that is very strongly evidenced through the strict lines that separate the Proles from the party members, with the upper-party members such as O'Brien again having far more privileges than party members such as Winston Smith. So much of your life is decided for you before you even have taken one breath, and the vision of the future that O'Brien presents to Smith only indicates the way in which life chances are becoming an irrelevance:

Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery is torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain.

1984 therefore paints a dystopic vision of the future that is built around a complete lack of social mobility.

In the same way, the future world of Gattaca is so advanced that what you can and can't do with your life is decided entirely on your genetic make up. It is of course the protagonist's eager desire to venture into space, but he is unable to do so because of his genes. He therefore has to assume the identity of somebody else, being very careful to cover his tracks, in order to achieve his goal. The difference of course is that whereas Gattaca gives us an example of somebody successfully fighting against the system and achieving the impossible, 1984 offers no such consolation.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both 1984 and Gattaca depict future worlds where human agency is subordinated to the dictates of a repressive government. Both show a protagonist who asserts himself to rebel against the system. Winston Smith is an everyman Outer Party member who can no longer bear his completely regimented life. He has none of the privileges of an Inner Party member and none of the freedoms of a prole. He rebels by buying a journal and secretly (he thinks) recording his thoughts, knowing these acts are a complete transgression of Party norms. Likewise, though a genetic invalid, Vincent Freeman (the symbolism of the last name is obvious) buys the DNA of a valid so he can become a space traveler. He, too, rebels against an arbitrary and unjust system.

Interestingly, both men fall in love with and are animated and helped in their rebellion by a pragmatic female. In Vincent's case it is Irene Cassini, and in Winston's Julia. Both works share the ideas of the importance of human individuality and a deeply felt relationship to being fully human.

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1984

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