Main Ideas Of Never Let Me Go Movie
The Science and Themes of Never Let Me Go (and Gattaca)
Most science fiction films involving human clones take place hundreds of years in the future, where technology is far ahead of what society has now and the world looks completely foreign in comparison to today. Although this futuristic approach can make for a great movie, it is less unsettling for viewers because they aren’t able to relate as deeply to the characters and their environment because the world the film takes place in is so different from their own. This makes the 2010 film Never Let Me Go, based off the 2005 novel of the same name, a unique and disturbing portrayal of human cloning and the ethics behind it. Instead of taking a futuristic approach to cloning, Never Let Me Go takes place between the 1970-90s. This makes it more unnerving for viewers, especially since cloning is something that has already been successfully done. Never Let Me Go ties together several themes and science throughout a thought-provoking and emotionally stimulating film.
Never Let Me Go’s themes include fate and combating societal oppressions. Gattaca (1997) shares these themes with Never Let Me Go. Both main characters, Vincent and Kathy, respectively, are born into a society that has already decided their life and worth. Vincent was born genetically inferior to the rest of society since his DNA was not optimized, so when his DNA was tested at workplaces, he was unable to get the job since they could see his genetic defects. Kathy is “born” as a clone, and her only purpose is to grow up healthy so as an adult, her organs can be harvested and donated. Vincent does not want to work gutter jobs and live as a lowlife in society, and he has dreams of going to space. He takes the identity of someone else with superior DNA to his, and goes to extreme measures to live the life he dreamed of that society deemed impossible for him. Kathy is told that if a set of clones can prove they’re in love, they will be freed from “donating” their organs. Her and her beau work incredibly hard to try to fight against the system and to not end up dying due to their “donations,”even though ultimately there is no way to avoid it and they fail.
One example of science in the film is a major point in the film; they’re clones. Cloning is an often used trope in science fiction, but it isn’t fiction at all, and the use of cloning and questioning the ethics of it in the movie were very relevant in the time period the movie is based in. The last few decades of the 1900s were full of cloning experiments and successes, most notable being Dolly the sheep being successfully cloned in 1996 (Brief). The film starts with captions of a medical breakthrough in 1952 that allowed human lifespans to be extended. The same year, in reality, was the year that Robert Briggs and Thomas King attempted to clone a frog. The experiment was unsuccessful, but it was the first attempt at cloning using similar methods to how cloning is done today (Brief). Cloning is done by removing DNA from inside of cells and replacing them with the DNA of another. This is called somatic cell nuclear transfer (Saey). Although cloning is a real scientific principle, and human cloning has the potential to be done, it has not been executed yet (Cloning). In this way, the movie is not completely grounded to real life science in this aspect, however, the idea of human cloning is very possible and almost certain to happen in the not-too-distant future.
Another example of the science in this movie is the clones being used for organ collecting to be donated to non-clone citizens. Although human clones are not being used for organ donations, other animals are being considered, as discussed in class. Scientists are looking to grow human organs inside of pigs to be used for those in need of organ transplants. Advancements are currently being made; scientists have used CRISPR to remove viruses from inside pig cells so the viruses can’t be given to humans through transplants (Saey). The process has not been perfected yet, and will need more time to advance, but soon, there will be life produced for the sole purpose of donating organs to humans.
For the science used in this movie, although it is probable, it isn’t heavily discussed in the movie and the process is not explained, so I would rate it 3 test tubes out of 5. For the plot, character dynamics, sets, and entertainment, I would rate the film 5 popcorn kernels out of 5 because of the quality and how ethically and emotionally stimulating it is.
In one scene of the movie, the main character Kathy and her love interest Tommy have realized that there is nothing they can do to avoid their organ donations and their death. They’re driving on a road in the evening in silence, and Tommy asks Kathy to pull over, he gets out of the car, and just screams. Kathy gets out to comfort him, and there is a very beautiful moment where the lights of the car cause them to be silhouettes with her holding him. This focuses the viewer on the two of them, shrouded in darkness and having nothing but each other. Sad music also begins to play, enhances the depressing mood of the scene. This scene elicits empathy in the viewer and causes them to feel hopeless like the characters do.
Another moment in the film is when the clone children are in class at the school they attend, and a teacher admits to them that none of them have any voice in their lives and that their fate has already been decided. The lighting is slightly dark and there is a slight grey cast over everything. This makes a very ominous and unnatural feeling in the viewer, alerting them that something is wrong with the place the children are in. The camera switches between the view of the students and the view of the teacher, showing the children’s blank expressions as they fail to understand her. This is important because it lets the audience know that the children are too young to understand their situation and their doom.
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