5 GREAT FILMS & TV SHOWS EXPLORING THE DANGERS OF GENETIC ENGINEERING
PUBLISHED 22 AUG 2016
THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU
Don Taylor / 1977
“If one is to study nature, one must become as remorseless as nature.”
In this chilling and often overlooked adaptation of HG Wells’ science-fiction novel, a shipwrecked Englishman (Michael York) washes up on an island inhabited by secretive scientist Dr Moreau (Burt Lancaster). He is disturbed by the medical experiments that Moreau conducts on the animals of the island, which are an attempt to convert them into human beings. The animal-human hybrid products of his experiments must abide by human laws but they are unable to repress their wild instincts and eventually destroy the island and their creator. Playing with anxieties of interfering with nature, this is a film which will ultimately cause you to question what makes us human.
BBC America / 2013-
“Controlling evolution is the ultimate power.”
After assuming the identity of her doppelgänger, con artist Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) becomes embroiled in a deadly conspiracy upon the discovery that she is a clone. ORPHAN BLACK is a deep and complex drama that brilliantly multiplies suspense throughout the series questioning the very ethics of human cloning and the illusion of identity. With each character played so convincingly and yet with subtle differences in accent, aura and attitude, Maslany’s performance of the clones is mesmerising.
Michael Bay / 2005
“I brought you into this world…and I can take you out of it.”
Set in a dystopian future where the population of a repressive society dream of winning the lottery, THE ISLAND documents the life of Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) who wants more from life. He uncovers a sinister truth behind the lottery – that they are clones grown for the wealthy to harvest spare body parts. As his artificial life disintegrates around him, Lincoln Six Echo attempts to escape the research facility with Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson). While Michael Bay’s brazen directorial style overpowers the second half of the film, the genetic horror and unease so cleverly constructed in the first half more than warrants consideration.
BBC / 2007
"No experiment is entirely without risk.”
This long-running television series is renowned for its unnerving villains, monsters and aliens. In the Season 3 episode “The Lazarus Experiment”, the Doctor (David Tennant) and companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) investigate a supposed miracle at a scientific demonstration hosted by 76-year old Professor Richard Lazarus (Mark Gatiss). Lazarus experiments with his own genetics in a desperate attempt to discover eternal youth, which causes a messy destabilisation of his cells and turns Lazarus into a beast. Fear is rooted in genetic mutation: a dangerous side effect caused by tampering with the very essence of humanity.
Steven Spielberg / 1993
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn't stop to think if they should.”
JURASSIC PARK highlights the dangers of “playing God” when a team of scientists bring dinosaurs back from extinction in order to exploit the prehistoric creatures for profit. Palaeontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are selected to assess the safety of the amusement park before it opens to the public but they soon realise that the terrifying main attractions have escaped. The monster of the movie may well be the dinosaurs but the film points a firm finger towards the scientists as the unintentional villains for unleashing the creatures in the first place.