There was an interesting discussion on the forums recently about Blade Runner: The Final Cut. I love Blade Runner. That whole Rutger Hauer speech at the end about teardrops in the rain? Brilliant. And from the Final Cut DVD documentary, I discovered that Rutger Hauer came up with that line himself - my favourite line in the film. Oh, and for the record, I am also a massive Philip K. Dick fan, too (though I was alarmed recently to find a speech by him in which he suggested that we are all really living in Judea 2000 years ago - although I'm not sure why I'm surprised by this). And actually, I quite like Total Recall, too, which may be pertinent information when you consider my next opinion...
I didn't save anything for the swim back...
So: yes, Blade Runner is brilliant. But I actually think there is another sci-fi film from the last decade that is on a par with Blade Runner both in depth and style. Okay, so it doesn't quite delve into what it is to be human, as Blade Runner and PKD do, but still... I love this film. And if you have seen it, you will have guessed what film I am talking about from the title of this post: Gattaca (for GTCA, the initials of the four DNA nucleotides, guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine).
I just watched Gattaca for - what? The tenth time, maybe. And as always, I had tears in my eyes as the credits rolled. Jude Law manages not to be annoying (because the film was released just before he became annoying; actually, he's fantastic in it, reminiscent of Richard E. Grant in Withnail And I in the way he plays his role). And the ever-reliable Ethan Hawke is great (okay, so he only ever plays the same character, but I like the character he plays; and don't even start me off on the bit in Before Sunset where they're in the car towards the end, because I at least want to pretend I'm all manly and stuff and don't sob at just anything. And he has a decent future writing novels ahead of him after his looks give out, the talented bastard - The Hottest State is a damn good novel and by better half informs me the follow-up is good, too, which I have yet to read. Better get out of these parentheses now). The whole film is - well, just perfect. Blade Runner uses replicants to ask: what is it to be human? Gattaca uses a very simple metaphor, which reminds me, in a way, of the beloved children's book, Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish: A man looked at a star. All he thought about, dreamed about, was that star. In Gattaca, rockets leave the earth for space and the main character just wants to be on one. It's a simple metaphor for something better. Everything from Vincent's swimming race with his brother leading to his poignant revelation that implies he will probably never be coming back, to the doctor's revelation about his own son... Gattaca is a masterpiece in structure and a true SF cinema classic. There's no real action - no shoot outs, laser guns, fights or anything like that. It's just about someone striving to go beyond their expected limitations, and the sci-fi setting provides the necessary metaphors.
To me, Gattaca - like Blade Runner - is what good sci-fi is all about: saying something about being human now, using a futuristic mythos to put into action what otherwise would have had to be put into words.
Gattaca: if you've never seen it, go watch it NOW. And if you don't like it, don't post here! (Because your opinion is in-valid.)
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