Tag Archives: Jurassic Park
If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this one.
This time it’s Cracked.com that’s accusing Steven Spielberg of making a steep drop appear out of nowhere during the T. rex attack.
There’s clearly nowhere for them to go. If they stay on the road, they’ll be eaten. If they run into the jungle, they’ll probably catch some kind of awful tropical parasite. And then be eaten.
Cut To …
Oh, wait, no: They can climb down this sheer cliff face, which just appeared out of absolutely nowhere.
And we say “appeared” because it literally appeared there during the edit between those two scenes. The tyrannosaur breaks through the fence, then the heroes crawl through the broken fence the dinosaur just burst through, only to find the concrete wall….
Oh, you think the greatest scene ever committed to film has a glaring mistake, do you? Well, I’ve got some news for you.
If you’re standing in the spot where the kids’ car is stopped and facing the fence, the goat tether would be directly in front of you, and that steep drop would be slightly to the left, along the edge of the paddock that’s perpendicular to the road. After the T. rex overturns the car, she nudges it to the left, past the spot where the goat was tethered, and then pushes it into the drop. Okay?
There. I’ve done my good deed for the day.
And don’t get me started on people who can’t figure out how the T. rex got into the Visitor Center when there’s obviously a ginormous opening in the wall.
A few items worthy of note as we ring in 2014.
- This list of New Year resolutions for Kentuckians includes a few history-related things to do, including some sites that every citizen of the Bluegrass State should visit. I’ll add one more assignment for Kentuckians in 2014: If you haven’t already, read either Thomas Clark’s classic history of the state or the more recent volume by Lowell Harrison and James Klotter.
- Speaking of knowing your local history, all you folks in Winston-Salem should get acquainted with your town’s Rev War namesake.
- We’re getting a new statue of Sam Houston here in Tennessee, where he made a name for himself before heading off to Texas. There’s also a new Civil War Trails marker going up in Maynardville, just down the road from my neck of the woods.
- Zachary Keck argues that Americans’ fondness for revolutions is misplaced, and stems partly from our own revolutionary beginnings. But he also claims that the American Revolution wasn’t all that revolutionary, because it didn’t upset the status quo. Keck notes that most revolutions don’t create stable, free societies; real progress is due more to evolution than revolution. But should we consider the democratization of the nineteenth century to be an effect of the American Revolution or an example of gradual evolution? Gordon Wood took the long view of the Revolution as a process that turned America away from the hierarchical, colonial past and toward the democratic, egalitarian nineteenth century. Taken as a discrete event which ended in the 1780s, though, the Revolution seems more limited in scope. I guess it all depends on your perspective.
- By far the year’s most popular post here at Past in the Present was a 2012 item about an off-color anecdote told by Abraham Lincoln which made its way into Spielberg’s film.
- I’d like to pick a best American history book of 2013, but most of the books I read this year had already been in circulation for a while. People have been writing history books for a lot longer than I’ve been reading them, so I spend most of my reading time trying to catch up with backlisted titles. As for the best American history book I read in 2013, I’d probably go with Rachel Klein’s Unification of a Slave State: The Rise of the Planter Class in the South Carolina Backcountry, 1760-1808.
- High point of 2013 for me? Under any other circumstances, visiting the Freedom Trail, Lexington and Concord would be impossible to top, but…
In case you haven’t heard, Jurassic Park 4 will be here in 2015 instead of 2014. I hate having to wait another year, but oh well.
Hey, speaking of Hollywood, my mom didn’t know World War Z is a zombie movie until yesterday. I asked her if she assumed, based on the trailers, that it was a movie about Brad Pitt running from crowds of normal people.
Okay, on to business.
- A woman who claims to have a photograph of Lincoln on his deathbed is suing the Surratt House Museum for $100,000 because of a statement on the museum’s website about the photo’s authenticity.
- BBC America listed ten connections between Lincoln and Britain, but they left out the most obvious one: Lincoln’s ancestors came from England.
- If you want to take in the anniversary festivities at Gettysburg but can’t make the trip, C-SPAN3 has got you covered. They’ll be airing the festivities in both live and taped form during the anniversary weekend, and July 4th will feature 24 hours of non-stop Gettysburg programming. For those of you in the Gettysburg area, the C-SPAN bus will be in town starting June 25th, and the Lincoln Diner will even have C-SPAN coffee mugs for the occasion. (That’s the one across the street from the train station, right? I’ve eaten there a couple of times. Neat place.)
- Sorry about the short notice on this one, but Dr. Earl Hess will discuss the Battle of Campbell Station at the Farragut Folklife Museum on June 23rd (that’s tomorrow) at 2:00.
- Finally, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has obtained an original Civil War document.
I usually avoid 3-D movies. The image is usually too dark, and the artificial depth just reminds me that what I’m watching is, after all, only a movie on a screen. But when Jurassic Park gets a re-release for its twentieth anniversary, I make an exception.
They’ve given it a darn good 3-D conversion. If you get the opportunity to see it in IMAX, by all means do so. Watching the T. rex attack sequence in the larger format is worth the price of a ticket by itself, especially with a good sound system behind it.
Ultimately, though, I didn’t really pay to see it in 3-D or IMAX, but simply to watch it with an audience in a darkened theater again. It holds up remarkably well. Photorealistic CGI effects were still in their infancy back in 1993, but JP‘s visuals still compare favorably with the digital effects in many modern films. Stan Winston’s live-action puppetry and robotics work in the JP franchise remains the pinnacle of the craft. The ensemble’s chemistry is still there. The plot hums right along without missing a beat. (Since it’s been on DVD, I’ve gotten accustomed to viewing my favorite moments separately rather than the movie as a whole, and one of the things that surprised me as I watched it from beginning to end in a theater again is what a lean and efficient piece of entertainment it is.) The whole thing still works.
A lot of people have asked me whether I prefer Jurassic Park as a novel or a film. I think they’re both masterpieces, but I’ve never been able to answer the question simply because the movie isn’t really an adaptation of the book. They’re best taken as two different stories based on the same premise. Spielberg’s distinctive fingerprints are all over his version, not just in terms of the visuals but also in terms of characters, emotion, and theme. Whereas Crichton’s novel ends on a note of uncertainty and pessimism, Spielberg’s movie ends with the creation of a sort of surrogate family. And whereas Crichton’s John Hammond is greedy and temperamental, the movie presents him as a tragic but sympathetic figure whose primary goal is not profit, but the desire to share something grand and wonderful. “An aim,” as he puts it, “not devoid of merit.”
Whether as a novel or a film, it’s one of the definitive expressions of modern man’s peculiar dilemma: there’s a formidable gulf between the power at our disposal on the one hand, and the wisdom and knowledge with which we exercise it on the other. What better way to explore this theme than a story about humans encountering dinosaurs, the creatures we can know about but never really know, who ruled this planet long before we ever started trying to understand it and master it?
Anyway, because I was a thirteen-year-old dinosaur fanatic when Jurassic Park hit theaters, I suppose I’ve never been in a position to be objective about it. Whatever faults the film has, I remain blind to them, like a guy who marries his high school sweetheart and never falls out of love with her. Don’t miss this chance to see it on the big screen again.
I just met Ariana Richards. Any personal milestones I reach henceforth are thus rendered insignificant by comparison, and that includes marriage and the birth of my firstborn child.