There's a magic to a perfect movie. You sit down and turn it on, and you remember exactly where you were and what was going on in your life when it changed. For me, I was sitting on the edge of my parent's bed when they popped in a VHS of Jurassic Park after it was released on video in 1994.
I was not allowed to see it in theaters, that would come later during a rerelease, but I was still swept up in the insanity and wonderment that was entering the park.
The John Williams score carries you into the imagination of Spielberg, Crichton, and Koepp, a place where dinosaurs walk the earth and science makes anything possible.
Until it gets dangerous.
Today I want to celebrate the genius of Jurassic Park and talk about what makes it a perfect movie.
Check out this video from Wisecrack and let's talk after the jump.
Hold on to Your Butts! Why Jurassic Park is a Perfect Movie
I'll just say here, for me, Jurassic Park is one of Steven Speilberg's perfect movies. He has a lot of them. He's amazing. But let's focus on the one in front of us. Jurassic Park is an adaptation from the Michael Crichton bestselling novel.
The novel is more cynical, about man perfecting nature for the sake of science.
But the movie's script, written by David Koepp, is more hopeful. It's about man's hubris still, but also about our ability to change.
This trifecta of talent is bolstered by one of the best casts ever assembled as well.
Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough carry this movie through incredible scenes, with amazing support from Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight.
The Best Scenes in Jurassic Park
We know that a great screenplay and an amazing movie is built from the ground up, one scene at a time. But what I think sets this movie apart from others is just how many memorable scenes we get.
I don't want to link them all here but let's list them...
- Killer opening with just a taste of the raptors.
- Dr. Grant scaring a kid
- The "Welcome to Jurassic Park" reveal of the dinosaurs
- The DNA animated tour
- Listening to a Triceratops breathe
- The T-Rex attack
- The car in the tree
- The T-rex chasing the Jeep
- Getting sneezed on by a Brontosaurus
- The "Clever girl" jump scare
- The electric fence zap
- The kitchen stalking
- The end standoff with the bones
- The T-rex saving the day
- The copter ride away from the island
That is an insane amount of memorable scenes...from off the top of my head!!!
Man Kills God
We talk about themes on this site a ton. So what's the theme of Jurassic Park?
This movie is about innovation leading to self-extinction. In one of the scenes that I failed to mention above, is the actual thematic structure of the film.
This is a pithy way to look at the movie, but spot on.
When we begin to mess with the natural order of the world, we reap the consequences. Those consequences can be awe-inspiring and steeped in wonderment, but also existential dread, danger, and death if you don't respect the magnitude of them.
What Could Possibly Be Bad?
When trying to decide the "perfection" of a film, you have to talk about the things you might not love about it.
Now, this is a good time to remind everyone that this is a subjective medium. Like I said earlier, I think this movie is perfect. So I wanted to look at the gripes mentioned in the video... and double down on refuting them!
The first one it talks about was the lack of moral ambiguity—that Jurassic Park had a strict "good" and "bad" dichotomy...and I don't think so.
For me, the idea is that humanity covers the spectrum of good and bad. We see a lot of grey area here and grey characters. Nature will always act in one way—the way it takes to survive. But humans have motives all over the spectrum.
This is important because as we see characters arc and change, we get the sense that their moral code. The ambiguity comes through humanity, not the theme of the film.
Another smaller debate was the logic behind Hammond bringing kids there.
They thought it was reckless.
I think that's a huge jump.
Hammond did not think his tour was dangerous at all. Sure, kids are a liability, but these are his grandkids. He said multiple times in his mind this is a zoo that should be ready to open. If he thought there would be problems, they were the very minor ones at the beginning of the tour, like the trucks not working and the animals staying hidden.
Lastly, they thought the staff at the park was dumb.
But I'd say that these are people isolated and dealing with new lifeforms. Sometimes it takes an outside investigation to help clear up internal issues.
This never bumped me and feels like a real reach on their part.
Summing It Up...
At the end of the day, I think Jurassic Park is easily one of the most important movies of the 90s and of Spielberg's career. It's a movie that came together at a weird time for him, one he had to make in order to secure the financing for Schindler's List.
In fact, he would shoot Schindler's List during the day and edit Jurassic Park at night.
Miraculously, both movies turned out to be some of the best of his career, and both perfect.
What are your favorite parts and stories about Jurassic Park?
Sound off in the comments.
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