1993 was a magnificent year for Steven Spielberg, the man responsible for the birth of the summer blockbuster with the monster movie, Jaws; carrying an inspired Hitchcock style that aimed to shock its audience; a year that would bring him success in both at the box office and at the awards circle, placing him back at the pinnacle of mainstream cinema, earning back the trust of his old fans and finally capturing a new set of audiences that would carry with him beyond the turn of the century. Over the years, Spielberg has found the gateway into his soul and poured them with every chance he gets; Close Encounters was the masterpiece that echoed his child-like wonder and curiosity while E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was more centred on his adolescent tragedies. Spielberg has tapped once again the emotions of the former and combined it with his ability to craft moments of visual splendour and suspenseful terror; thus creating Jurassic Park.
A theme park would be the perfect platform of such an innovation, an opportunity that would enhance humanity’s understanding of a bygone species, to appreciate their grand presence in a way that a museum could simply not evoke to its observers. Though ground-breaking and beneficial, the invitation of scientists into the park has attracted some backlash, especially in its moral standing on progressive science; laying down the truth on its creator, hoping it would inspire change in his heart and ensure the safety of its potential audience. Despite their strong perspectives, they also find themselves in a place of astonishment and gratitude, notably emphasised in their first close encounter with the live attractions, unable to contain themselves of the pure fact that their long desired dreams have finally come to appear; all thanks to this one man’s effort.
It is in the debate that sparks between the polarising stances; is the replication and presence of these dinosaurs ethically sound, could such extinct creatures survive in such a changed atmosphere, and if so is it deemed safe for humanity and dinosaurs, both regarded as rulers of the world in one time or another, to roam and live with one another; for a film that generates so much excitement from its thrills and suspense, that to have an abundance of food for thought makes it far too rewarding for its own good. Much like Jaws, the gaps in between its markers of terror, we are challenged through intellect and emotion from the development that comes from its characters; placing exposition in perfectly situated moments that we remain immersed in its constructed atmosphere of tension. Jurassic Park rarely deviates from our attention, finding myself constantly in anticipation of the tragedy that would surely come before them whilst maintaining firm attention of the substantial ideas that it covers.
Despite the fascinations I have for the humans that reside in its narrative and the discussions they find themselves in; it is in its central attractions, the prehistoric creatures, that shines in its entirety, handling them with such passion and grace, emphasising their glory and terror with every possibility, unable to keep our eyes from them whenever they enter into the frame, even if it captures only a portion of its limb. A combination of computer generated imagery and animatronics was utilised, providing the audience with the best of both worlds that ensured the experience to remain as immersive and respectful as possible; possibly a necessary method to draw out the most from its reacting cast, leaving us with reactions that are powerfully sincere.
Faultless the film easily could have been if not for the far too convenient resolution of its climax; it’s most dangerous and grandest of antagonists, unconsciously saved the humans in peril from the cunning hunger of the Velociraptors. Far stronger outcomes could have been generated if given enough thought, one that would purely earn their solace from all the chaos. Its final frame provides us with a hopeful and comforting image of the dawning sun with a helicopter, containing the surviving passengers, advancing towards to the world of the familiar, indicated by the beautiful flapping of a pelican’s wings that flies along with them; distancing themselves from a world that is now overruled by its predatory competitors.
The icing of an already thick and fulfilling cake is the iconic and gorgeous composition of John Williams’ score, once again evoking that portion within ourselves that strikes our imagination and child-like wonder; swelling our hearts as its familiar tune fills the atmosphere of its triumphant subjects, highlighting the undeniable fact that we have been transported to an astoundingly unique world. It stands among many of the composer’s masterpieces, at times even more so, due to its resonating power that is undeniably penetrating.
Jurassic Park is among the filmmaker’s most accomplished of works, restrained only by the shortcomings of its resolving climax, immersing its audience within a world that is scientifically progressive and prehistorically significant, introducing the appreciative aspects of these once dominating creatures; all cohesively held by its thought-provoking themes that elevates the feature beyond the popcorn entertainment that it attempts to advertise.