Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Life finds a way..." ~ Jurassic Park 20 Years Later

I still cannot believe it's been TWENTY years since Jurassic Park was first released in theaters. I still remember when I saw it (age 8). I remember all the emotions and thrills I felt in every scene. I watched this movie whenever I visited my grandparents too, since they had it on VHS.

I'll be seeing it again with my husband soon, but I had to take my best friend to see it yesterday. We became friends the year before this movie came out so we go about as far back as these dinosaurs, so for us it was supremely nostalgic. It was also an absolute delight to watch this on the big screen again with an audience made up of nerds who love it, and new kids who have never seen the film. Listening to the screams and excitement throughout was so fun, it's so rare to have that experience anymore when going to the movies. One of my favorite moments was the woman next to me screamed bloody murder at the part where the raptor jumps out when they get the power back on again. It was so funny, but even funnier was her young son saying, "Mommy, close your eyes!" It was so cute! There were some annoying people in there too, but the energy of the audience was amazing and added to the experience of watching this timeless film again.

I always liked this film as a kid, but now as an adult knowing what I know about film and seeing what I've seen I can say confidently it's one of the best movies ever made. Not that it's perfect, there are certainly some moments that need help, (like why on EARTH does Lex grab the flashlight for no reason when the T-Rex shows up, other than to make him see them, seriously...) but it's a film that stands the test of time, and tells and effective, provocative story. It amazes me how all the thrills still thrill, the visuals still wow and look amazing, and the score and scenes still give chills. To me that's the mark of great craftsmanship, even with imperfections, which are unavoidable anyway.

The scene that always burned in my mind, and probably most people's too, was the kitchen scene. I think it's because I often watched this with my little brother, and we were near the ages of those two kids. Also my brother and father call me Lex, which is the girl's name, so it hit close to home. I always thought about what Adrian and I would do if we were in Jurassic Park, and we often acted out the scenario during our play times because we loved the movie. The raptors terrifying pursuit of the kids and their childlike cleverness to evade them, gave the scene ultra intensity. It's funny when I was younger those kids kind of annoyed me, but now as an adult I found their performances very true to life and sweet. I mean they had to do a lot of physical and emotional acting, and that's something many adults struggle to do convincingly.

I get very different feelings and conclusions from this movie than most people would, mainly because of the beliefs I hold, so don't get your feather's ruffled if you disagree, take what you want to take from it.

My favorite aspect is the illusion of control. Man is always building it's towers of Babel, trying to control nature and bend things to our will, "playing God," as it's called. This film is all about that and how it's a weakness of man and not a strength. The character Dr. Ian Malcolm is on the surface goofy, funny, and strange, but oddly enough he's the voice of reason in the entire thing. One of my favorite lines of his, and there are many, is: "The complete lack of humility before nature that's being displayed here is staggering." and then later, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn't stop to think if they should."

This film revolves primarily around science, but there's also involved the illusion of control which nods to a higher power. Malcolm has that respect, he's not blinded by curiosity or the urge for discovery, he looks objectively at the matter asking them if it's really wise to treat these creatures like toys, resurrecting them after natural extinction just so we can study them and play with them, make attractions out of them. On the surface yes, who wouldn't want to see what dinosaurs were really like, but they aren't from the world we know. As Dr. Grant implies, we are separated from them by so much time, how could we possibly know what to expect, or how to handle them?

This film also has incredible uses of foreshadowing in story. In the beginning Dr. Grant scares some smart-ass kid with a story about how velociraptors hunt their prey, with one distracting in the front while two come at them from the sides. Then the Australian hunter Muldoon warns Jurassic Park's owner, John Hammond, saying the raptors should all be killed because they are dangerous, unpredictable and calculating. This theme runs throughout with raptors inciting that fear and unpredictability via their speed and cleverness. Finally it comes full circle with Muldoon as he finds himself with an aim on a raptor before him, but suddenly trapped by a second raptor at his side. "Clever girl."

Additionally, this movie keeps gore to a minimum, implying more than showing. This Hitchcockian method works wonderfully, ultimately making the content more terrifying.

Another positive note is that this film has a completely satisfying ending. Watching it with an engaged and excited audience made it all the better. I remember when I was younger being completely blown away as all hope is lost and our heroes are surrounded by raptors, doomed to die. Then suddenly T-Rex comes in proving himself king of the dinosaurs. It's just ironic that they couldn't save themselves because they were not in control, but instead escaped only because of the higher natural order of things. The big guy wins. They escape, T-Rex destroys the raptors and gives and unforgettable, thundering roar as the park's banner that reads: "When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth," comes falling down from the ceiling. I always got chills at that part, and apparently everyone else did too because they were applauding. You can't help but feel small and powerless in that moment, knowing man really doesn't have control and never will. For me personally, I am comforted by this, but others might find it an unnerving reality.

I would like to conclude by saying everyone should go out and see this movie... again! The 3D is incredibly subtle, it's more of an immersion effect, not a "popping" effect. I forgot I even had glasses on at one point and almost left the theater with them. Also, most theaters have one show a day that's not in 3D during the first weeks. Spielberg, you certainly were the T-Rex of film in the 90s.

I leave you all with one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, not gonna lie I get really moved when I hear it. Thank you John Williams!


  1. Glad to see someone respect and praise the return of this movie as much as I do, as well as recognize that this is some of John Williams' best work fron the 90's. - EAL

    1. Thanks Eric! I saw your post on fb so I know you are a fan! And believe me, you're not alone, people really miss films like this. Not that we should pine for yesteryear, but we should try to bring back those same feelings and responses in our films today. :-)

  2. Awesome new post! Whereas I'm not a fan of Jurassic Park, I love all what you outlined here about the film and why it is a classic. Most of all, I love how the audience was in your theater. It reminds me of that moment in Hitchcock where he is waiting outside the theater and then screams come from inside with the Psycho moment. Haha! It is storytelling at its finest! Creativity, innovation, clever uses of "show don't tell" and "less is more", it is what audiences truly respond to. I also think it is telling because this is a culture that gluts itself on thrills and entertainment, but when it comes down to it, they respond the most to true storytelling. The story of the little boy to his Mom is adorable and hilarious. Yay for movies! And yes, Speilberg was a giant of the 90s, and John Williams as well!

    I also like the point brought out about science and man trying to "play God". I never actually watched Jurassic Park all the way through, so those quotes from Malcolm I didn't remember or realize they were there. That is awesome. Your description of the ending sequence is very true, of Man not being in control, and how this point is driven so perfectly with the imagery and sequence of events. I'm not a fan, but I can appreciate it for sure!

    And your story of you and Adrian when you were younger, haha, classic. ;)

    1. You haven't seen it all the way through??? WHAT?? lol

    2. Yeah, I know. Haha. I'm just not that interested in it. :P