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Jurassic Park : 30th Anniversary Special

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Screen!

Image: ©Universal Pictures

It’s been 30 whole years since Jurassic Park changed the movie scene forever with huge advancement with it’s prosthetic effects and ground breaking CGI , which still puts some modern films special effects to shame to this very day!

The Dinosaur Franchise original – Directed by Steven Spielberg – made its debut on June 9th 1993 and proved that anything and everything is possible in movie making , as long as you show innovation , imagination and choose the right director / Writing team to tell a wonderful story.

Based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park stars Sam Neill , Laura Dern, Jeff Goldbloom, Richard Attenborough , Wayne Knight and Samuel L. Jackson. The film tells the story of an island which contains a vast wildlife park, with real-life (biogenetically created) Dinosaurs! When testing the park out on some visitors , the park goes out of control when one of it’s disgruntled employees temporarily turns off the parks security systems, causing Dino-Chaos all through the island!

Bizarrely it doesn’t feel like 30 years have passed for Jurassic Park , unlike the dinosaurs , it never really has found any extinction! The movie seems as prevalent today as it always has been , still challenging other high budget modern films of today. The popularity of the film spurned on five sequels between 1997 and 2022 and the merchandise market has remained hot throughout this time. You will most likely find Jurassic Park Merchandise on most fashion online stores , most theme parks and still remains in pop culture as retro wear. A movie which paved it’s way for many movies which followed is still remembered fondly to this day as it was who watched it back in ’93.

The huge impact that it left on its viewers is quite astounding , and truly feels like a modern classic which can be critiqued fondly for it’s majestic story , exciting characters , terrifying (and wonderous) dinosaurs , wonderful practical and special effects and delightful cinematography and pacing …. Not to mention the iconic score from the legend that is John Williams himself!

Image: ©Universal Pictures

It really does feel you can watch this movie countless times and never tire of it! It’s accomplishments are so vast and flavoursome throughout the 2hr 7minute runtime.

From T-rex paddock scene , to the jeep chase sequence , Nedry’s encounter with the dilophosaurus and the raptor kitchen scene …. The entertainment is as large as the herd of Brachiosauruses reaching the tops of trees. The movies suspense, tension, and sheer wonder throughout is so damn good!

Like a lot of movies which involves big thrills and popcorn moments, Director Steven Spielberg works his magic by balancing out the pacing of the key set pieces and never rushes the main attraction (the dinosaurs) too quickly. Although we get a sneak peak of the Velociraptor ‘the Big One’ , in the first four minutes, the image is illusive and blocked by the holding cage, the dinosaur is effectively kept almost entirely off screen, with lighting , sound and gestures for the audience to use their imagination to fill in the blanks of the terror of what is happening on screen, which conveys to the audience a sense of intensity of what is to come and wonder of what to expect.

It takes 20 whole minutes to see the first dinosaur , which majestically is the Brachiosaurus , which is shown in full, using ground breaking CGI in a truly scene stealing piece of cinema!

The exposition in between story checkpoints is never dull and always fascinating to the audience with a wonderful and intriguing (and not entirely untrue) bit of science which draws us closer to the story , Michael Crichton’s fascination and writing of science in his books really bring excitement of discovery to a thrilling story.

After around an hour into the film the story is set and now is the time everything can go wrong , with Dennis Nedry’s sabotaging of the security systems…. Ah ah ahh you didn’t say the magic word! Indeed! Needless to say all hell breaks loose with deadly consequences … the deadly dinosaurs have now only to shine on the glorious screen in front of you!

The action is usually (mostly) in short but sweet bursts of film time , never wasting a minute of build up to the execution of the danger and terror of these dinosaurs. Every moment you can remember in Jurassic park by memory is usually one that remains some of the best of all cinema. And that is intended by Spielberg, which is a theme of many of his films over the years.

The exhilaration of seeing these moments take play within the film are almost mesmerising , leaving you in this wonderful awe.

Image: ©Universal Pictures

The technology used in film has come along way since the release of Jurassic Park in ’93, but the unbelievable work which particularly was done on the T-Rex sequences still remain some of the best special effects work to hit the big screen. The animatronics and CGI ensures that these sequences look flawless, even with the huge difficulties they had on set during production.

The production was certainly an abrupt one with a real-life hurricane hitting the location of filming in Hawaii , almost mirroring the Costa Rican storm on Isla Nublar within the film , the shoot was plagued by animatronic issues, and there wasn’t at the time the computer generated technology to really use at the time for a movie of this magnitude without taking something significant away from the picture .

Spielberg , amazingly pulled this off with unwavering enthusiasm . He filmed parts of the real-life hurricane to use for the Isla Nublar storm, he worked as much as he could with the animatronics and then trusted the skills of Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams and Mark Dippe at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) who were determined to create a realistic digital dinosaur using CGI, go forth and create this animative design. Spielberg had solved one of his biggest problems entering the film , discovering that the stop animation may not work as well in the present times as well as he’d wanted. CGI modelling and animatronics was eventually used together to mesh the best of both worlds together in what would becomes ground breaking in film technology. The previous stop-motion team knew how the dinosaurs moved and retrained as computer animators to continue their skills on the production .

With the Hurricane starting and stopping regularly weeks on end , the set was regularly damaged and time was of the essence. Steven Spielberg was unwavering and orchestrated scenes from the atmospheric, tension building of the rain storm, through the initial reveal of reactions, prolonged attacks and subsequent escapes, he managed to take the audience through the range of the emotions. Jurassic Park featured 15 minutes of on-screen dinosaurs, of which approximately had 9 minutes featuring Stan Winston’s animatronics and six minutes of ILM’s CGI animation. The score of John Williams is simply stunning and is entered , elevated and teased throughout , adding strong emotive reactions from the audience , delivering a lot of extra to the already strong , sound pacing of the classic.

It is most certainly worth noting that Spielberg over saw the post-production work on Jurassic Park while in Poland filming ‘Schindler’s List’. Both of these movies were to be released in 1993. These films are surely a wonderful testament to his skill behind the camera as a Director. The legendary director also brought the best out of a wonderful iconic cast in front of the camera, Sam Neill , Laura Dern , Jeff Goldbloom were simply fantastic and Joseph Mazello as Tim and Ariana Richards as Lex resonated with the audience wholeheartedly , with of course Spielberg having a wholesome history of getting strong performances from child actors in a supportive environment.

The picture is not without being also credited to the wonderful production team in Dean Cundy (the cinematographer), editor Michael Kahn, production designer Rick Carter and the tech wizards at ILM. Michael Crichton and David Koepp’s script also brought the story to life from the page.

To conclude, (as we could go on all day about the wonders of this movie and it’s importance to film today) Jurassic Park is a perfect example of everything and everyone in the team coming together to make a truly wonderful movie in the right way! Despite all the obstacles in their way , the film projects well crafted imagination , majesty and thrills with a brilliant story , editing , production team and Director. It is truly a standard set in the film industry (particularly a modern one , full of CGI) which has stood firmly in the visitors centre , roaring loudly as a ‘when dinosaurs ruled the earth’, and we would happily still feel this for 65 million more.

Image: ©Universal Pictures

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