Is there a gene for the human spirit? An analysis of the basic motifs and symbolism in the movie "Gattaca"


  • Mladen Stajić Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade


anthropology of film, genetic engineering, discrimination, disability, authenticity, Christian symbolism


Gattaca (1997) represents an artistic view of a dystopian future in which the genetic engineering of humans is commonplace. Through the analysis of the ways in which motifs of discrimination and disability are used in this film, wider societal implications of the development of science and the consideration of humanity in western culture are considered. The paper discusses the argumentation for the idea that gene modification means espousing the role of the Creator, and seeks answers to the question of what it means to be human in a genetically deterministic world. The issue of new kinds of discrimination in a potential post-racial world is highlighted, and the possibility of achieving authenticity and the freedom to create one's own identity in a society wherein designed people are the norm is considered. Finally, the ideas and conclusions of numerous authors who dealt with the world of Gattaca are presented, and a new point of view is offered - one which puts the focus on the religious symbolism in the film, a surprisingly neglected motif in previous analyses.


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How to Cite

Stajić, Mladen. 2021. “Is There a Gene for the Human Spirit? An Analysis of the Basic Motifs and Symbolism in the Movie ‘Gattaca’”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 12 (2):505–534.

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