Don’t Save Anything for the Swim Back — Gattaca Movie Analysis

The film is set in the year 2195, when humanity has solved most of its problems and people live to be over 100 years old. However, with advancements made in genetic engineering, society takes a different turn. The main character Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) was born without any natural abilities such as running or swimming due to an accident during his parents’ conception which led them to abort Vincent before he was born. Despite this setback for him, he works hard at Gattaca and becomes one of the world’s first successful e-genes who can pass all tests for everything but swimming – a skill that would’ve been necessary for him if not aborted by mommy and daddy.,

The “gattaca i never saved anything for the swim back meaning” is a movie that talks about how society has changed and the importance of work ethic. The movie was released in 1997, which was before many people had their own personal computers.

Gattaca brothers swimming don't save anything for the swim back, with a cover of 2 men swimming.

The hallowing of Pain, like the hallowing of Heaven, comes at a bodily cost — Everything — is the Price of Everything —

Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson)

Biotechnology and sophisticated eugenics have separated the “not-so-distant” future into two categories in the outstanding and under-appreciated film Gattaca: the “valid” and the “in-valid.”

Those whose embryonic DNA were trimmed and modified to enable for their birth as genetically superior offspring, intended to carry on their parents’ finest inherited qualities, are the valids.

Those who were created naturally, by parents who played genetic roulette, are ineligible. In-valids are excluded from society’s main professions and relegated to menial labor since they are more likely to have “flawed” DNA and are more prone to genetic illnesses and deficiencies.

Vincent Freeman is not a legitimate person. He works as a janitor while secretly dreaming of becoming an astronaut, a profession from which he is disqualified. He has genes that suggest a high risk of many illnesses and an expected life span of 30.2 years.

Anton, Vincent’s brother, is a valid, and their genetic disparity exacerbates their sibling rivalry.

As children, Vincent and Anton competed in games of “chicken,” in which they both swim out into the water as far as they dare, with the loser being the first to return.

Vincent is constantly on the losing end of things, until one day he surprises Anton by outdistancing him. Anton, who is unable to keep up, almost drowns and must rely on his genetically inferior brother to rescue him.

Years later, the brothers have a rematch when an insatiably ambitious Vincent uses deception to join the space program and secure a spot on a voyage to Saturn based on merit. The underdog defeats his fraternal foe once again, who must be saved from drowning.

“How are you doing this Vincent?” Anton wonders, astounded by the change of events. “How did you manage to do any of this?”

In response, his brother says:

“Want to know how I accomplished it?” Anton, this is how I accomplished it.

I never put anything aside for the return swim.”

Desperation forged the cliff’s edge.

“To the vanquished, there is only one salvation: to hope for none.” –Virgil

After crushing the Roman army at the Battle of Cannae, Hannibal, the triumphant Carthaginian leader, offered to ransom the thousands of legionaries who had been captured. The Romans declined, despite the fact that they were in severe need of men due to their horrific losses. They realized that if they accepted Hannibal’s offer, their surviving men would consider surrendering as a chance for survival, and hence lose their fury in the struggle. The Romans also “ordered by law that troops must either conquer or die,” according to Carlin Barton in Roman Honor, “so that… there could be no possibility of survival in event of loss.”

As Barton points out, these ancient tribe “romanticized the challenge of desperation” for “the edge [it] offered to heroism,” and this strategy to increasing motivation by purposely pushing one’s back against the wall and setting up a position of “do or die” was characteristic of them. “The Romans, both individually and collectively, are most to be dreaded when they stand in true peril,” said the Greek historian Polybius.


“Burning their boats” was one method the Romans attempted to reach the condition of being they thought required for both individual and national salvation: keeping nothing in reserve. “The readiness to spend all — up to and including the state — was, paradoxically, the last assurance of both the state and the spirit’s continuous survival,” writes Barton.

They felt that, as the Roman commander Sulla phrased it, “the less you spare yourself, the safer you will be.”

The spirit of a guy eager to sacrifice all could not be vanquished in the end.

Everything should be done with caution, including moderation.

“He who despises his own life is your ruler.” –Seneca

Saving nothing for the return trip, devouring oneself in a cause — preferring to be ashes rather than dust, as Jack London phrased it — is not, of course, a good approach in all situations. In almost anything, to be honest.

Moderation, budgeting one’s resources, and properly pacing the distance are frequently the keys to success in contemporary life. Being practical. Prudent.

But there are times when the only way to win is to go all in, to refuse to back out, to have no backup plan, to lay it all on the table.

This technique achieves two goals:

First, as the Romans noted, it pushes you to shift into fifth gear, summoning willpower that would otherwise be unavailable outside of a “do or die” circumstance. Not reserving anything for the return journey is therefore a leap of faith — a confidence that if you dig deep enough, you’ll uncover a stratum of black gold hitherto undiscovered.

Second, it intimidates one’s adversaries, who are afraid of the unknown of how far you’ll go — how much you’re willing to risk, how much you’re ready to forego. “Hannibal’s will was weakened when he learned that the Romans were ‘discarding’ his troops at a time when they were most needed,” Barton writes. When a game of chicken progresses far enough, a participant will often give up and return.

There are no assurances in certain aspects of life. You must press on with all you’ve got and make the most of the situation. You must have faith that even if you consume so much fuel on the way out that you don’t have the energy to return, you will have gone far enough to reach another shore. You won’t have to go back to the beginning. You’ll have given your life a new direction.

As Anton and Vincent swim over the water towards the horizon, the former begs his brother to return, fearful of exhaustion and the distance they’ve traveled.

Vincent responds, “It’s too late.” “We’re getting closer to the other side,” says the narrator.

Everything has a cost.



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“Gattaca quotes” is a movie that explores the idea of genetic engineering and how it would change society. It is a story about one man’s fight to save his son from being genetically engineered, while also questioning whether or not he should have been. This film has many quotes that are worth reading. Reference: gattaca quotes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Vincent mean when he said I never saved anything for the swim back?

A: Hes probably referring to when you had to go through the opening scene of The Last Of Us. You were tasked with dragging Ellie out of a burning building and across a field, but in order for that scene to play, there was an arrow pointing towards the exit on your map. If you didnt see it or missed it then after getting back into town, Vincent will say I never saved anything for the swim back.

What does swimming represent in Gattaca?

A: In the film, swimming is shown to represent a greater success in life. The swimmer will not be limited by their genetics and so can move up through society more easily than someone who isnt as good at the sport.

How did Vincent beat Anton at swimming?

A: Vincent is a professional swimmer, so he was able to get in and out of the water faster than Anton.

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