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    Movies and Bioethics

    April 18, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    GattacaOne of my all-time favorite movies is Gattaca. I first watched this movie in late college, and loved its thought-provoking nature. Filmed during the era of the Human Genome Project, the writers of Gattaca created a world where genetic engineering is commonplace, and the children of those parents who choose to reproduce the old-fashioned way are considered inferior and unfit for most of society. Gattaca raises a lot of questions, but also reinforces the idea that human creativity, ingenuity, perseverence, and determination are key if one is to defy a society’s arrogant prejudice. For a short review and bit of discussion concerning Gattaca, go here.

    Now that we have a Netflix subscription {yes, to our dismay our local drug store finally discontinued their $0.99 movie rental department}, we have been able to watch a couple more movies that ask some good questions…and also fall into our favorite movie genre, action/adventure.

    StealthStealth is a good example, though an inferior movie when compared with the likes of Gattaca. With a wealth of action scenes, poor character development, and gratuitous insinuations, I still appreciated Stealth’s main question: Should we create a new technology just because we can? And I thought this other observation {made by one of the characters} to be fascnating: We should not use technology to divorce war from its consequences. This would make war too much like a video game….etc. I found myself floating back to the Civil War, and how ridiculous it has always seemed to me that these men stood in a line right in front of each other and just shot bullet after bullet. But Stealth offers the other extreme–an unmanned and artificially intelligent plane that offers war without the deaths of our own pilots. The movie rightly implies that the old war techniques are more likely to make a society {or its leader} think twice before going to war because there are lives that can and must be sacrificed. An impersonal war is not adequately feared.

    The IslandMy final movie plug for today is The Island. This movie came out in 2005 and didn’t get nearly enough publicity considering the $122 million that was spent producing it. But it is a work of genius along the same lines as Gattaca. The Island deals with human cloning and I feel I can’t say much more without ruining the plot for a reader who hasn’t yet seen it. My suggestion would be to watch this movie intelligently. A start would be to view the movie and then go here to read the best article I’ve read on the movie thus far.

    Do you have a favorite movie that deals with bioethics?


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  • Reply Si April 19, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    I thought the movie was valuable for the chase scenes alone. But the questions raised, especially “What makes someone a person?” added so much depth to it. A rare combination. The movie is worth two hours of your time, if you haven’t seen it.

  • Reply Grace April 19, 2006 at 1:09 am

    Hi. I haven’t seen Gattica or Stealth, but I did see the Island. I loved that movie and the whole “intelligence” behind it. It’s so interesting because you know that there are people out there that would love to clone themselves.

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