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Jurassic Park 30th Anniversary Screening

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I really do enjoy this new thing of showing classic films in the cinema. Over the last few years I’ve seen Die Hard, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Superman, Cabaret, and others. Not to mention the annual Christmas Eve showing of It’s A Wonderful Life. Sometimes it brings back memories of seeing films when they first came out, other times it is a first opportunity to see a film on the big screen for the first time. Some of them are of an age that I was too young to get in and see them in the cinema when they were released, some fell into a period of my life when the cinema wasn’t my default entertainment setting. 

Either way there are now more opportunities to see films that I’ve only ever seen on the TV. Normally I might use the term “small screen” to tell the difference but my current telly is not much smaller than some of the smaller multiplex screens I’ve visited! That may be hyperbole but it really isn’t that far off. But domestic TV screen sizes are one of those things that are flexible. I, fairly, recently was struck down with the Covids and took to the spare bedroom to try and prevent the spread of the dreaded lurgy around the house. This room hadn’t been used since we had the delight that was hosting the ever lovely Jilly on the UK leg of her European tour.

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My ever-loving wife had given me a new Apple TV 4K box for Christmas and so the old one went into the spare room and got connected to the old sitting room telly. Now…this telly was, at the time, considered to be a BiiiiG goggle box. It was a magnificent 30”. I remember when we got an absolutely huge 23” set. The cabinet was about the same size as a chest of drawers. Nowadays telly boxes are heading towards the size, both in thickness and area as the posters I used to have in college. Mine is a 55” Toshiba padded out by a Bose sound bar. My father would have been amazed but, having died in 2010, he never got to see such an astonishing thing!

T-Rex Doesn’t Want To Be Fed

Basically, what I’m saying is, we always seemed to have the second biggest televisions on the market. So when I moved into the guest room I was presented with what was, five years before, the big living room TV. And it was tiny! Fortunately though, the teeny tiny telly was enough as I was, thanks to my fevered state, only really listening to whatever I had on and couldn’t be too bothered about what was actually on it as I kept drifting off. But I do remember thinking that I used to think this telly was huge! In short, all this has been saying that what is in the living room is always the biggest that you are used to.

Which is why the cinema is always…always…the big screen. Any screen that has to be measured in metres is always going to be the big screen! And then there is the other dimension…how loud you can get! In the cinema there is, usually, a state of the art surround sound system. My usual companion for cinema trips is my son. He is profoundly deaf and has been from birth. At home the TV sound is turned off; there’s no point in having it turned on as it just irritates the rest of the family and he can’t hear it anyway.

We Spared No Expense

So the latest offering for the Rewind slot in my local cinema was Jurassic Park. It has been thirty years since it was released and galvanised the use of Computer Generated Imagery – CGI. I know it is not the first use of CGI. That award usually goes to the opening credits of Vertigo in 1958. A variety of films used CGI to a greater or lesser extent. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) had the scene with the stained glass window knight coming to life whereas Toy Story (1995) was 100% CGI.  Jurassic Park (1993) was probably (I await correction!) the first to have a cast of CGI photo realistic co-stars.

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July 30, 2023

My bladder thanks you so much!! App works great for telling u when and for how long you have a pee break! I didn’t use the timer function so the dialog in the movie was a great clue as to when to go. I also liked the info about each movie to know whether there was any extra scenes during or after the credits. Nothing worse than waiting for all the credits and then no extra scene.

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As is the way of most developments, the technology was evolved from other sources. Most obvious was the “living water” scenes in The Abyss (1989) and pretty much every scene of the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). So, using the methodology of the “standing on the shoulders of giants” thinking, the team at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) effectively made the team of stop motion animators, who had initially been brought on board, redundant. In fact, for the majority of future animation work, it made them practically extinct. 

Clever Girl

The big debut for ILM came at around the twenty minute mark. There is the scene where the jeeps stop in some random field. Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) looks over and slowly gets to his feet. He rips off his hat and sunglasses while staring, open mouthed, into the middle distance. He wordlessly reaches down, grabs Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) by the head and turns her head to the same spot he is looking at. She also stands open mouthed and drags off her sunglasses. The camera cuts to a spot a couple of metres behind them and we see our first dinosaur. 

It is a Brachiosaurus and it slowly plods past our group and idly chews the foliage off the top of some nearby trees. Is it perfect? Probably not to modern eyes. But remember, my previous dinosaur films were animated by Ray Harryhausen. Undoubtedly he was at the peak of his game at the time. Also he was helped by me being very young and impressionable. I wasn’t as young when Jurassic Park came out and I don’t think I was as impressionable. But I was convinced when I first saw it and, last Sunday, I was convinced again.

All Theme Parks Have Delays

To be honest though, it is way more than the formerly state of the art CGI effects that keeps Jurassic Park so very watchable. To start with, there is the story. Michael Crichton was an excellent author. Maybe not the finest as far as more literary minded readers might reckon but definitely capable of churning out some gripping page turners. Usually with a technological theme and more than capable of being adapted into a screenplay. I’ve read many of the novels over the years and they consistently managed to engage me.

His first foray into the world of cinema was an adaptation of The Andromeda Strain.  From then on there was Rising Sun, Congo, Sphere, Timeline, The 13th Warrior, The Terminal Man, Disclosure, and, of course, the first two Jurassic Park films all based on his novels. The other big names are Twister and Westworld which were never novels. For Westworld, Michael went straight to writing the screenplay and he also directed it. That was the 1973 film version, the later TV version was adapted from it. He also created ER which ran for fifteen years; Crichton’s pilot was written twenty years earlier!

Woman Inherits The Earth

Next up is the cast. It says something when the likes of Samuel L Jackson is a bit part player! The leads are Sam Neill and Laura Dern as the two “traditional” palaeontologists brought in to assess the safety of a new theme park owned by Dr John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). Also brought in to advise on the assessment is chaotician Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Mr Jackson’s role is that of the park’s Chief Engineer Ray Arnold. Also on the staff are gamekeeper Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) and lead programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight).

Stealing a lot of the scenes, as they are want to do, are Hammond’s grandchildren; Tim and Lex Murphy. These two are played by relative new comer Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards who had had a bit more experience. The kids are there to provide humour in the first  place and suspense in the latter stages. They are the ones that are there to do the stupid things which get you immersed. “Switch the light off you stupid child!” “Listen to the man and just jump!” They are the sorts of things that are going through your mind, or out loud when you’re at home, when the tension has to be ramped up.

Big Tim, The Human Piece Of Toast

And that orchestration of emotion is in the hands of a master – Steven Spielberg. His trademarks include the use of silhouettes, circles, rear view mirrors, and masterful child performances. All are on show here. Some are there to raise tension like the concentric circles in the glasses of water showing that the T-Rex is approaching or the velociraptor shadow which moves across the dinosaur silhouette in the dining room. Occasionally humour is injected too as in the “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” as the T-Rex lunges closer!

But as is often the way with a big ($63million) budget, the final cast and crew were not the only ones considered for the roles. Tim Burton was lined up to direct if Warner Brothers had won the rights,  which might have guaranteed more stop motion and less CGI. If Fox Studios had won it would have been Joe Dante or Richard Donner if Columbia had come out on top. Even James Cameron had been interested but, after the event, decided that he would have made a worse, more violent film; Aliens with dinosaurs!

Just Think Of It As…Kind Of A Big Cow

Sam Neill is irreplaceable as Dr Alan Grant, yes? Well Richard Dreyfuss, Kurt Russell, William Hurt,  and Harrison Ford were approached. Juliette Binoche, Sandra Bullock, Kristin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Robin Wright Penn, Sigourney Weaver, Kyra Sedgwick, Julia Roberts, Melanie Griffiths, Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman, Juliette Lewis, and Amanda Plummer were all up for Ellie Sattler. Christina Ricci read for Lex Murphy and Sean Connery turned down the role of John Hammond. Just run those permutations through your mind and see what you get!

Read all our Jurassic Park articles — RunPee Jurassic Hub

 

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Comments

One response to “Jurassic Park 30th Anniversary Screening”

  1. It’s interesting that Harrison Ford and Sean Connery could have been together before Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That aside, it’s also interesting to wonder how the Alan Grant character would have been portrayed with Harrison. I imagine more quips and action sequences.

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