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Entry updated 19 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1997). Columbia Pictures presents a Jersey Films production. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol. Cast includes Loren Dean, Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Gore Vidal. 106 minutes. Colour.

In a future where Genetic Engineering allows children to be optimized at conception and Eugenic DNA screening is routine in elite employment, a naturally conceived untouchable (Hawke) colludes with a crippled genetic patrician to fake his identity and win a place in the space programme, but is threatened by a murder investigation which proves to be headed by his own genetically privileged brother.

Niccol's strikingly atmospheric debut film is remembered as much for its mood and style as for its characteristically portentous premise and storyline, thanks to iconic production design, unnamed but Iconic Los Angeles locations (see California), and a famous Michael Nyman soundtrack (which Joss Whedon used for inspiration while writing Firefly). Slow-burning, improbably plotted, and not terribly well played, it had little commercial appeal on release, but has held up strongly in cultural memory for its timely if largely meretricious melodramatization of public anxieties about the rise of genetic screening. [NL]


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