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Despite the many times that I have seen art imitate life in the BioHorror genre, it nonetheless continues to amaze me when these fictions become real. The newest advance in biotechnology is a purr-fect example.
On Valentines Day, 2001, a company called Genetic Savings and Clone announced that it had successfully cloned Rainbow, a female calico cat. Rainbows DNA was put into her birthmother Allies egg cell which was then implanted and gestated to produce Cc:, or Carbon Copy, a calico female kitten. The developers of this pet reproduction technology are hopeful that Cc: represents a new era of commercial pet cloning. Opponents are concerned that Cc: will be used to justify and make possible human cloning in the future.
Although this kitten was a sensation in the press, and a surprise to many in the general public, she was hardly unanticipated by professional scientists or fans of speculative fiction. Since the cloning of Dolly in 1998, experts have been predicting that the cloning of pets would be both feasible and profitable in the near future. In film, cloning has primarily been limited to cautionary or comedic tales of human cloning (as in The Boys from Brazil or Multiplicity). The subject of pet cloning was addressed in film most spectacularly in the recent Schwarzenegger sleeper, The 6th Day (2000).
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You probably blinked and missed the Columbia Pictures fall 2000 release of The Sixth Day, which bombed at the box office. This sci-fi thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger focused explicitly on the dangers of cloning humans, but early on suggests that the legalized cloning of pet animals will convince the public to allow human cloning in the future. Thus early on in the film we witness the lead Adam Gibson and his wife debate replacing their dead pet, Oliver, with a clone in order to avoid their daughters grieving.
Adam visits RePet at the Woodland Mall where a salesman tries to convince him to clone Oliver. Using a three-stage process, the RePet salesman claims, his recently deceased pet can be recreated. The first stage is the growing of a blank body form for the species, which is then infused at a cellular level with the DNA of the pet. The clone is then infused with the pets memories in a process called synchording. Additional genetic engineering can be done to change the size, behavior, and other traits of the pet. Pet cloning in Adams world is legal, although human cloning is not. Of course, the boundaries become blurred in this morality tale about a speculative biological future. But how speculative is it?
Director Roger Spottiswoodes comments on a behind the scenes documentary indicate that it was the subject matter first, and profit second, that inspired his interest in the film. The decisions by high-profile actors Arnold Schwarzenegger (plays Adam Gibson, the tour pilot) and Robert Duvall (Dr. Griffin Weir, cloning expert) to work with Spottiswoode, who is alternatively a TV director and very new to the science fiction genre, suggest that they were also taken with the films speculation about animal and human cloning.
The Makers of The 6th Day
The 6th Day is a film that lingers on two elements that tickled me: first, the details of how technology is changing our daily lives, and second on the potential negative consequences of technologies that may change who we are at fundamental, genetic levels. This is truly a moral, cautionary talewhich just didnt capture the publics attention or interest.
The 6th Day is one of those overlooked films that the biohorror enthusiast delights in.