Flashback: ‘Jurassic Park’

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September 17, 2013 by Hope W.

Jurassic Park is a movie close to my heart, because it is the first movie that I ever remember watching. I was five at the time, so my memory is just a blur of not really understanding what was going on and curling up my body on the cinema seat and clutching my mother in terror. The first scene stayed with me though — years later, I still had the distinct recollection of a man slowly being sucked through a hole by a dinosaur, screaming in pain as people around him frantically tried to pull him out to no avail. (That scarred, which is why I never tried rewatching the movie until now.) And since I didn’t understand the plot at the time, I wondered why these people were walking amongst dinosaurs as though it was normal when they were supposed to be extinct millions of years ago.

Dinosaurs: scaring the shit out of kids since 1993

Dinosaurs: scaring the shit out of kids since 1993

But I do remember feeling very relieved at the end of the movie when everyone escaped (well, the main characters at least), and glad that they are never going back to that accursed island again (not knowing then about the concept of sequels. Not that I watched those, because being properly terrorised once is enough, thanks). The last shot of the T-Rex roaring as the banner floats down is one of the coolest images in cinematic history.

jurassic-park-t-rex

Revisiting it a few nights ago, it’s remarkable how well-preserved it is. The dinosaurs still look very real — the dinosaur animatronics crew really did a fantastic job — and the CGI holds up even 20 years later. (Plus it’s great to finally understand what’s going on.) Despite vaguely knowing what was going to happen, I was still on tenterhooks the entire movie. And it wasn’t so much the sight of the dinosaurs eating people that terrified me — it was the foreshadowing that I remember being frightened about even back then: the ripples of the water in the T-Rex footprint, the missing goat, the torn fences of the Velociraptor enclosure, the ominous cutaway to the spray can of dinosaur embryos rolling down the slope and being buried in the mud. It is one of the best examples of Steven Spielberg — the pioneer of the summer blockbuster — elevating what’s meant as entertainment for the masses into an art form of its own; and it’s a pity that he stopped making them in recent years in favour of heavyweight dramas.

Also the movie that cemented Sam Neill's place in the cinematic pantheon as "hey, it's that guy from Jurassic Park!"

Also the movie that cemented Sam Neill’s place in the cinematic pantheon as “Hey, it’s that guy from Jurassic Park!”

(Just a bit of trivia: the guy who plays Dennis Nedry, the asshole disgruntled employee who started the entire mess and let all the dinosaurs loose, also voiced the asshole toy collector who stole Woody in Toy Story 2! I thought his voice sounded familiar.)

What’s the very first movie that you recall watching as a kid?

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