Vincenzo Natali

Splice isa Sci-fi thriller written by Vincenzo Natali, starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley. The film has won the 2011 Telefilm Golden Box Office Award, for being the highest grossing Canadian feature film in English in 2010 (Ryan). It centers on genetic engineering and how it can be manipulated by scientists to achieve their own desires. Clive and Elsa are rebellious scientists who hope to achieve fame by combining the DNA’s of different animals to come up with hybrid animals to be used for medical purposes. It sets off with Clive and Elsa creating Fred, a male hybrid animal intended to be a mate for Ginger, a female hybrid created earlier. The two young scientists are excited at their success and seek to use human DNA to create a hybrid. This plan is however rejected by The Nucleic Exchange Research and Development (NERD) that funds their research. They instead advice them to work on extracting proteins from the hybridsthey have already created. Secretly, Clive and Elsa continue with experiments fusing other animals DNA’s with that of humans.

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The mise-en-scene in this film authenticates the setting as well the themes highlighted in the film. The use of diffused Fresnel coupled with high key lighting creates a believable environment of the laboratory. The characters further enhance the authenticity. The deformation on Dren’s face makes it more realistic. Dren passes for a true modification in both character and appearance. The director captures the human side of Dren through giving it human feelings like sexual desire inter alia. Through costuming, the director takes us to an imaginary world of science as the greens and blues in the costumes of the researchers make the whole scene and film look amazingly beautiful.

From my point of view, the director does not hesitate to bring out the fact that curiosity indeed killed the cat. Whereas Clive is a little hesitant on going full throttle with the hybrid, Elsa convinces him to keep at it. The hybrid is born aggressive and deformed. Elsa suffers as a result after it stings her. They decide to kill it only to realize the true hybrid is on the inside of it. Elsa names it Dren and forms a motherly bond with it.

The characterization in enhancing the plot of the film cannot be any better owing to the fact that the director concentrates on the genetically modified human to keep the viewers glued to the screen. This, he enhances, through use of ominous sound tracks that identify with more especially Dren. The sound tracks bring about suspense and anticipation in the entire film. Dren gets more aggressive and after it attacks Clive’s brother, they move her to Elsa’s deceased mother’s farm where she also attacks and feeds a rabbit nearby. This hybrid keeps Clive and Elsa busy to the point where they neglect the earlier hybrids Ginger and Fred (Ryan).

In my opinion, the director does much to highlight very important themes throughout this film. There is betrayal as a major theme. The fact that human beings create super genius creatures which later on attack them is a clear indication of this. Further to this, when Clive discovers that Elsa used her own DNA on Dren without Clive’s knowledge to an extent brings out this theme. They finally decide to end Dren’s life and stop the experiment. No sooner does Elsa tells them that Dren is no more, than Dren attacks them killing Clive’s brother and their boss. Dren also attacks Clive wounding him and turns to Elsa and rapes her. Clive is killed by Dren and Elsa finally kills Dren. In the end the NERD Company offers Elsa a generous amount appreciating her for the experiment and for her silence about Dren. She however is pregnant, most probably from the rape.

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Splice opens up the possibilities that genetic engineering can bring with it. It gives an insight on the extent to which curiosity can take human beings in their quest for discovery and drive to find medical solutions. The consequences of these experiments if uncontrolled and unregulated have also been highlighted. It shows the unimaginable possibilities that we can achieve and sheds light on the complexity of biotechnology. Even though the negative side is emphasized, positive use of these advancements can be of great help in solving the ever complex human diseases. In my humble submission, Splice raises critical questions on whether or not we should go ahead with genetic engineering and all other experiments designed for our benefit. In as much as Splice is thrilling, it reveals the consequences of wrong choices.

Clive and Elsa’s lives change significantly as consequence of their choices, Clive ends up dead and Elsa ends up pregnant after Dren rapes her. The transformations that the hybrids go through such as Ginger and Dren turning males surprises the scientists (Ryan). This brings about a realization that even our learned scientists are not epitomes of knowledge and that they can fail to stop things they assumed they can control.

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Ethical issues arise where Clive and Elsa go against the advice of NERD and secretly execute the experiment. It shows that the drive for discovery can make people overstep their mandates just for curiosity. In the end, when the NERD buys Elsa’s silence on Dren, shows how the desire for money can drive regulators to overlook the dangers facing the society for their gain. It is an insight on the possible existence of unregulated and unethical genetic engineering and other scientific experiments.

In a nutshell, Splice sparks a now familiar debate on the merits and demerits of genetic engineering (Ryan). On one hand it shows scientific advancement that is beneficial to mankind, while on the other hand it shows the negatives that scientific advancement can bring and that what is hitherto considered fiction and horror is catching up with mankind. Elsa’s pregnancy after Dren rapes her confirms the worst of fears that the effects of genetic engineering are here to stay and the debate continues.


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