Due to this year marking the 25th anniversary of the original Jurassic Park film, and since the franchise has been brought back to the attention of the media following Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it seems a good time to celebrate and discuss the original Spielberg classic.
When looking at director Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Jurassic Park, and the following films of the franchise, it is clear that they are examples of modern-day romanticism.
Romanticism is a popular ideology that was primarily expressed in the 1800s, in which the immergence of science and technology was slandered, whilst the endeavor of family, love, dreams and nature was celebrated and praised. Romantic thought is that nature is tarnished and even destroyed by scientific empiricism.
This belief is heavily expressed in romanticist Mary Shelley’s beloved novel Frankenstein. Additionally, the gothic tragedy is very similar to Spielberg’s 1993 film, as both share a man’s downfall due to an ambition that has provoked him to defile nature with the implication of science.
Whilst the titular Victor Frankenstein creates a cheap imitation of a man in the form of the Wretch, Jurassic Park’s John Hammond creates dinosaurs, both playing God. As Geoff Goldblum’s character Dr Ian Malcom laments, “[their] scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could [play God], they didn’t stop to think if they should”, which is of course the same problem that caused Frankenstein’s creation of the Wretch.
Clearly, Jurassic Park is the criticism of scientific ambition and the celebration of nature through the ways in which the creation of genetically engineered dinosaurs cause havoc, yet becomes one with nature once man abandons the island of Isla Nublar.
This concept is even expanded upon in later instalments of the franchise, such as depicting pterodactyls occupying the sky akin to birds, to signify nature has adapted and prevailed.
Watch how Jack De Livera creates his Indoraptor below
However, romanticism is also expressed in the characters of the first film. Although the creator of the InGen dinosaurs, John Hammond, ambitiously defies God, he is spared in the slaughter of the island because ultimately he intended to follow his dreams and make excitement for people.
Alternatively, Dennis Nedry, the man who betrays the park and cuts off the energy to the island’s defences, is killed due to his motives deriving only from materialistic greed. Additionally, the character arc of protagonist Doctor Alan Grant further progresses the romanticism motif. This is due to Alan Grant’s evolution throughout the film, evolving and adapting to his environment to avoid extinction like the dinosaurs which surround him.
When first introduced to Dr Grant, his use of a raptor claw to scare a child whilst delivering information about the raptors illustrates his animosity and resentment of children, as well as that he himself is quite vicious, reflecting the predatorily traits of the raptor.
When meeting John Hammond’s grandchildren on the island of Isla Nublar, Lex and Tim, Grant still treats them with resentment, clearly irritated by their presence.
Life, uh, finds a wayDr Ian Malcom
However, once the T-Rex breaks loose and carnage occurs, Grant must protect the two children and guide them back to safety. Not only does he begin to like the children, but Grant truly evolves. This is made most clear in the scene in which the three are sleeping in a tree, Grant holding both Tim and Lex.
The three connect over jokes and their trauma on the island, but Grant has learned to value the children, and therefore appreciate the future generation and life itself, rather than focusing on the remnants of the past, that being the dinosaur bones he studies as a palaeontologist.
Moreover, Grant’s raptor claw he used to terrorise the child at the start of the film is dropped and forgotten, symbolising the character has grown and evolved.
The final shot of the helicopter leaving the island, with the two children still with Dr Grant illustrates that from encountering an island where man-made science fails and nature has prevailed, that being that “life.. finds a way”, Grant has left having learned how to value pure nature and love.
He is now no longer hateful of children, and potentially is now ready to start a family with then girlfriend Dr Ellie Saddler.
Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name, Jurassic Park, utilises romanticist conventions to teach the audience the dangers of ambition, the criticism of science, and that true happiness can only be found through endorsing the future and valuing life.
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