The landmark motion picture Jurassic Park, directed by Steven Spielberg, has been rereleased into theaters. Only this time, in 3D. I am usually not a huge fan of 3D, but was excited nonetheless. Jurassic Park on the big screen was enough for me, since I was too young to see it in theaters 20 years ago (I was a mere 3 and a half years old).
As a film, Jurassic Park works on multiple levels. A child can see it for the first time and marvel at the dinosaurs, but an adult can see it and enjoy it for other reasons. Yes, they can still marvel at the dinosaurs like a child does, as it brings them back to when they were a kid, to when they dreamed about the dinosaurs roamimg the earth, like many children do. But the film also works on another level, one beyond the chaos and destruction that dinosaurs can create. That level: parenthood.
The fundamental message about Jurassic Park is that anyone can become a father. Dr. Grant opens the film as an opponent to having kids, as he belittles one who got smart with him, but he slowly works his way through the movie with Tim and Lex, Mr. Hammond’s kids, and becomes more and more comfortable around them.
Dr. Grant’s comfortability with kids does not come without the help of Tim and Lex. Tim, a dinosaur fanatic, is completely enamored with Dr. Grant and bombardes him with questions about dinosaurs and the like. A touching moment early on comes when Dr. Grant asks Tim what car he is going to be in and Tim responds, “whichever car you’re in.” Not what Dr. Grant wanted to hear.
Lex also has a moment early on that shows Dr. Grant’s flaws of being a father. When the groups gets out of their cars and head towards a sick Triceratops, Lex stumbles and falls. Dr. Grant helps her up, but we see it was all a trick, as Lex grabs Grant’s hand and does not let go. She only wanted to hold Dr. Grant’s hand, but knew he would not allow it if she asked. As the film progresses, Grant realizes to do the little things with the kids.
The turning point in Grant’s relationship with the kids occurs when the cars break down in front of the T-Rex paddock. It is, essentially, when Malcolm’s theory of chaos begins. So, it is not coincidental that it is also the beginning of Dr. Grant’s “choas” with Tim and Liz. As Dr. Malcolm distracts the T-Rex, Dr. Grant goes to help the kids. He comes upon the two kids in the car, and Lex stammers, “He left us! He left us!” referring to the lawyer Gennaro, who left, terrified by the T-Rex. Dr. Grant’s apt reply is, “But that’s not what I’m gonna to do.” It is here that Dr. Grant takes responsibility for the kids. From this point on, he shows an openness and willingness to understand children like never before and evolves as an adult from a man unsure of fatherhood to a man more comfortable with kids.
While traversing the dangers, the trio of Dr. Grant, Tim, and Lex climb into a tree for safety and sleep. However, Lex is still apprehensive and nervous. She asks Dr. Grant, “What if the dinosaurs come back while we’re all asleep? ” and Dr. Grant replies, “I’ll stay awake.” Lex follows that up by asking, sheepishly, “All night?” and Dr. Grant reassuringly says, “All night.” It is amongst the trees of Jurassic Park, with Brachiosaurus heads lurking in the distance, that Dr. Grant finally realizes the powerful feeling of responsibility by having kids and the pride that comes with helping and raising them.
Through thick and thin, Dr. Grant guides the kids through the chaos of Jurassic Park, keeps them alive, and returns them fairly safe to Mr. Hammond (Tim did get slightly electrocuted). In the copter, the two kids could be sitting with their grandfather, but, instead, they choose to sleep on the shoulders of Dr. Grant. It is the icing on the cake for him as he passes the test of fatherhood with flying colors.
Jurassic Park’s impact as a movie is simply phenomenal. 20 years later and the special effects still hold up. This is mostly due to Spielberg’s great imagination. He is not too reliant on the effects, as some of the scenes without any special effects are just as profound and memorable as the parts that use the special effects. For instance, how memorable is the opening scene? The raptor is never really shown. And how scary is the disappearing goat? The goat’s next appearance is when its leg falls on top of the car. Spielberg knows when to show and know when to restrain. It adds to the movie experience, as the audience has to fill in some parts with their own imagination, which, in the end, is the real reason we love going to the movies.