“Gattaca” vs “The Island”

The Island, Gattaca, and Michael Bay's Films

The films "The Island," "Gattaca," and "Michael Bay's" depict universes where free choice and emotion triumph over the rational and scientific aspects of existence. In this paper, "Gattaca" and "The Island" will be compared philosophically.

Free Choice and Determinism in "The Island"

In "The Island," free choice and determinism are depicted as a microcosm of humanity. Dr. Merrick has a deterministic viewpoint on the entire system of clone insurance policies. To ensure that the cause of the Agnates' futures stays continuous, he implants memory into their minds so that they are trained to adhere to specific timetables and commitments (Bay). Nonetheless, his deterministic system disintegrates when Jordan-Two-Delta and Lincoln-Six-Echo decide to escape, thereby, depicting the power of free will that is within them (Bay). However, from a different perspective, the escape of the two clones could have been influenced by the memories of Tom Lincoln that Lincoln-Six-Echo had, implying compatibilism. From this argument, the Agnates' decision to escape was influenced.

The Philosophical Reality of Free Will in "Gattaca"

Conversely, "Gattaca" illustrates the philosophical reality of free will through Vincent who achieves his dream despite genetic discrimination (Niccol). Vincent, thus, exceeds the capabilities of an "invalid," harnessing the power of free will and going against the restraint of a society defined by materialistic reductionism. Niccol challenges the constructs of determinism when it is revealed that Director Josef committed murder despite the fact that his genetic makeup showed no violent traits. In addition, Niccol refutes determinism when Vincent lives past his stipulated lifespan of 30 years. Furthermore, Director Josef's conversation with the Investigator concerning the thorough testing of the Gattaca recruits reveals the general reproach that determinism is unfalsifiable (Niccol).

The Existence of Morality in Both Films

Both movies can be used to expand on the philosophical issue regarding the existence of morality. There is an underlying theme of ethics in both movies. For instance, "Gattaca" raises the issue of eugenics while "The Island" brings out the idea that one can "take and give life." Both issues have been used to discuss the morality of decisions in the contemporary society. Initially, "Gattaca" depicts a good intention of enabling people to live in good health and in an almost perfect world. However, it turns out to be a nightmare when judgment is given based on one's genetic value. Given that only the people with perfect genes are valued, the company encourages discrimination based on its current determinism by putting eugenics into practice (Niccol). The movie presupposes that there exists genes upgrading intervention, as there is a selection of favorable human genetic factors and eradication of unfavorable genes (Niccol). This brings out the real ethical problem regarding those considered "invalid" because they are born naturally. One could question the legitimacy or moral basis of predetermining a person's life based on certain disabilities.

Similarly, "The Island" portrays a section of the society trying to assume the role of God by venturing into the world of science and opening the doors of new life. The idea that "if one can give life, then they can take life" is considered unethical and it supports the pro-life argument (Bay). Though what is depicted in the film is more of an entertainment than a quandary of the future, it is a social observation on how often individual interests conflict with welfares of the society. The argument being depicted in "The Island" is that human actions are based on their own best interest, which in most cases does not benefit the society.


In conclusion, through the main characters, both films illustrate the philosophical dilemmas of determinism, ethics, and free will.

Works Cited

Bay, Michael, director. "The Island." DreamWorks Studios, Warner Bros, 2005.

Niccol, Andrew, director. "Gattaca." Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, 1997.

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