Comparison Of Thomas More’s Text Utopia And Andrew Niccol’s Film Gattaca
Both Thomas More’s text Utopia and Andrew Niccol’s film Gattaca explore the concepts of utopias and dystopias corresponding to their contemporaries, through their depiction of values and social classes in their reimagined worlds, whilst remaining captivating across changing societies and cultures. More’s depiction of a utopian society founded on equality opposes the traditional political structure of a monarchy and social differences in classes during Tudor England. Contrastingly, Niccol’s exploration of a dystopian political structure based on scientific advancements due to rapid development of technology, compels social divide. More’s interpretation of a utopic society that values human existence and neglects valuables opposes Niccol’s view of a dystopia, that negatively values human life. Through the differences of More’s utopia and Niccol’s dystopia, the concept of utopia remains fascinating to people as the definition and understanding of utopias continuously changes throughout time and changing society and cultures.
More’s exploration of a utopian world founded on equality in his text “Utopia”, remains fascinating overtime, as it opposes the traditional political structure of a monarchy. Through his spokesperson Raphael, More evaluates Utopian politics and social structure and criticises unjust monarchy of Tudor England. More criticizes the unjust punishments allocated by the court over petty crimes, calling them “obstinate” and “ridiculous judgements … in England”. More implicates his frustrations towards the English monarchy, subsequently leading him to explore a utopian and egalitarian political structure. More’s exploration of a utopian society based on equality, is an interpretation of a faultless world during his contemporaries, thus remaining intriguing to people throughout different societies. His utopian view of a society based on equality implicated in “Among [the Utopians] virtue has its reward, yet everything is shared equally,” and “no one can ever be reduced to poverty or forced to beg” opposes the social divide provoked by the authoritative English monarchy. More aims to remove the inequality between different classes, and eliminating the Tudor concept of class based on wealth and power, elucidating to his view of utopia. More’s metaphor in “But no one [in Utopia] has to exhaust himself with endless toil … as if he were a beast of burden” elucidates his views of a utopian society where workload is disturbed evenly and fairly throughout the different classes. More’s exploration of a utopic society based on equality, remains fascinating across time and culture, as it opposes the political structure and social divide set in Tudor England.
Contrastingly, Niccol’s depiction of a dystopian political structure based on scientific advancements in his film “Gattaca”, remains fascinating across different time periods, as an exploration of the rapid development of technology compels social divide. These technological advancements allow the creation of highly enhanced humans called ‘valids’ compared to genetically unmodified and thus inferior ‘invalids’, as the geneticist explained, “I’ve taken steps to eradicate all potentially prejudicial conditions” relating to Niccol’s utopian view of a society that is not hindered by medical disabilities. However despite such benefits, Niccol explores how technological advances can have social consequences, through the social divide of ‘valids’ and ‘invalids’, further expressing his idea of a dystopia that opposes More’s ideal of a utopia. ‘Invalids’ are often neglected by society, as shown when the detectives are searching for a suspect, using a long shot and a fence separating the ‘valids’ and ‘invalids’, symbolising the social divide between the two contrasting classes. The major social divide between the two classes is also reflected through the deterioration of human relationships. This is seen in Vincent’s separation of his family during a conversation with his father over breakfast, where Niccol uses shot reverse shots between the conversation and places Vincent in a separate table from his family, highlighting the social separation between the pair and dystopian society. Vincent’s father infers that the only way Vincent “will get inside a spaceship is by cleaning it,” due to his genetic deficiencies, further suggesting the dystopian social divide of scientific advancements and contrasting to More’s perception of a utopian society. Niccol’s fascination of dystopia is explored through a society based on scientific progressions, instigating social divide and opposing More’s utopian view of a world without social inequalities.
More’s examination of a utopic society that values human life over treasures, remains fascinating overtime, through the opportunity of education for individuals. More places no value on treasures, making “chamber-pots … of gold” and using valuable metals to “make chains and fetters for their slaves”. This elucidates More’s utopian interpretation of a society that is not based upon wealth, opposing the materialistic values during Tudor England. More’s rhetorical question in, “for what greater wealth can there be than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety?” reinforces his views on the value of human existence over riches and remains relevant to changing societies, as people are still fixated upon materialistic values. More’s continuation of utopic society based on equality, utopians are all given the right of education, reinforcing More’s value of human existence, as education during the Tudor era were only available to the wealthy. More expresses his utopian views in “It is Utopian practice that public lectures are held” for “person of all classes, both men and women, come to hear these lectures” insinuating his value for human existing by allowing education for all classes, and remains fascinating across time as his view of utopia is an opposition of the values and social norms in Tudor England. Through More’s value of human existence, indicative through his treatment of education, he insinuates human life has more value over possessions, thus allowing the concept of utopia to remain captivating across time.
Conflictingly, Niccol’s portrayal of a dystopic society that negatively values human existence, remains captivating across time, through the exploration of individual’s attitude towards their life. Niccol uses the character Jerome Morrow, a ‘valid’ genetically engineered to win, to express the negative value of human existence, as seen in his loss of attitude towards life. Jerome’s burden of perfection is expressed through his dialogue with Vincent in “Jerome Morrow was never meant to be one step down on the podium”, elucidating Niccol’s depiction of a dystopic world. The close-up of Jerome and a shadow covering half his face reveals how Jerome’s bitterness in life and his loss of value to human existence. Jerome’s impulsive behaviour in relation to drinking and smoking is revealed when vomiting after in a dinner with Vincent, further indicating his lack of value towards life. Niccol uses a dark yellow background and uses Jerome’s sarcastic tone in “I’m sorry. Do you want this [vomit]? I’ll save some shall I?” to indicate Jerome’s lack of care or value towards life as he is no longer able to achieve his ‘destiny’ and is overcome by the burden of perfection. This insinuates Niccol’s portrayal of a how a utopian attribute can lead to a dystopia, hence remaining fascinating across changing culture. ‘Invalids’ are also illustrated as bearing a negative attitude to human life, exemplified through their attitudes towards their work when Jerome arrives at Gattaca as a cleaner. Niccol uses both wide angle shots and close-ups to reveal their glum expressions, suggesting their loss of value in human existence and reinforcing Niccol’s ideal of a dystopic society that contrasts to More’s perception of valuing life in all social classes. Niccol’s depiction of a dystopic society that negatively values human existence, remains captivating across changing contemporaries, through the exploration of the characters of Jerome and ‘invalids’.
Thomas More’s text Utopia and Andrew Niccol’s film Gattaca explore the concepts of utopias and dystopias corresponding to their contemporaries, through their depiction of values and social classes in their reimagined worlds. More’s depiction of a utopian society founded on equality opposes Niccol’s exploration of a dystopian political structure that compels social divide. More’s interpretation of a utopian society that greatly values human existence opposes Niccol’s view of a dystopia, that negatively values human life, as seen through the character Jerome. The concept of utopia remains fascinating to people as the perception of utopias continuously change throughout time and changing society and cultures, as demonstrated through the differences of More’s examination of a utopia and Niccol’s view of a dystopia.