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"Gattaca": Science's Attempt to Perfect Humanity

Gattaca, with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, is a futuristic drama about the possible consequences of genetic engineering. A husband and wife have their first son naturally and their second one genetically engineered to negate almost all diseases and human weaknesses.

The three-minute clip begins with a brief close-up of a cross on a chain and a baby's birth. The narrator, the natural-born son, Vincent (Ethan Hawke), says, "I'll never understand what possessed my mother to put her faith in God's hands rather than those of her local geneticist's. Ten fingers, ten toes, that's all that used to matter. Not now. Now, only seconds old, the exact time and cause of my death was already known."

As he says this, you see a nurse taking a crying baby (Vincent) to a small mat on a table. Another nurse pinches the bottom of the baby's foot with a needle. The blood is instantly analyzed: "Neurological condition: 60 percent probability. Manic depression: 42 percent probability. Attention deficit disorder: 89 percent probability. [The mother now has the baby in her arms and has a worried look as she hears all this.] Heart disorder: 99 percent probability. Life expectancy: 30.2 years." The father looks on in dismay.

Approximately three years later, Vincent's parents visit a geneticist, where they view on a monitor four of their fertilized eggs. The geneticist tells them, "After screening, as you see, you're left with two healthy boys and two very healthy girls. Naturally, no critical predispositions to any of the major inheritable diseases. All that remains is to select the most compatible candidate. First, we may as well decide on gender."

The mother says she wants a brother for Vincent to play with.

The geneticist continues, "You have specified hazel eyes, dark hair, and fair skin. I've taken the liberty of eradicating any potentially prejudicial conditions—premature baldness, myopia, alcoholism and addictive susceptibility, propensity to violence, obesity, et cetera."

The parents say that maybe it's good to leave a few things to chance. But the doctor rebuffs, "You want to give your child the best possible start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection built in already. Your child doesn't need any additional burdens. And keep in mind the child is still you. Simply the best of you. You can conceive naturally a thousand times and never get such a result."

Elapsed time: Measured from the beginning of the opening credit, this scene begins at 00:09:14 and ends at 00:12:28.

Content: Gattaca is rated PG-13 for brief violent images, language, and some sexuality.

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