Last week, visual effects artist Todd Vaziri took to Twitter to shatter the illusions of Jurassic Park fans everywhere. “When people watch this 24-year old mega-blockbuster,” he tweeted, “they point and laugh at the totally obvious disappearing raptor on each viewing, ya?”
What, Todd? The what!?
Alongside this tweet, Vaziri also posted a slowed down GIF of the moment in question and – yep – there it is. During the final set piece, in which the T-Rex (somehow silently) stomps into the Visitor’s Centre and gobbles up the Velociraptors, one of the Raptors disappears. Not eaten by the Rex, just gone. One frame, she’s there, the next she’s not, the following one she’s there again. Magic! Disappearo, the Vanishing Velociraptor! Thanks for destroying years of happy memories, Todd!
Truth be told, it’s not the only overlooked moment or underheard bit of trivia about Jurassic Park: the film is pretty much littered with them. So without further ado, here are some of the most important things about Steven Spielberg’s dino-masterpiece that you may have missed.
Black and white
Spielberg famously released Jurassic Park in the same year as Schindler’s List, and he’d been working his way towards such dramatic offerings during the late 80s with The Color Purple and Empire Of The Sun. A split personality, Spielberg was trying to navigate the passage between entertainer and educator, and this dichotomy is apparent in the clothing worn by John Hammond and Ian Malcolm. Hammond is the idealist: pure and naive. He dresses in white. Malcolm is the realist: cynical but correct. He dresses in black. Spielberg has used such colour coding throughout most his films, but it’s in Jurassic Park that it’s most evident.
It’s not just Hammond and Malcolm either: Spielberg codes his two leads in a similar way. Alan Grant starts the film in a blue shirt, while Ellie Sattler begins it in a pink shirt. As events in the park unfold, Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp subvert traditional gender roles, making Grant the maternal figure and Sattler the action hero. Their clothes reflect this, with Grant’s blue shirt becoming caked in mud and Sattler’s pink top being ditched to expose the blue undershirt beneath. Woman really does inherit the Earth.
Smile you son of a…
Dennis Nedry may have destroyed the dream of a dinosaur theme park, but he had great taste in films. Keep an eye on Nedry’s computer as he’s being criticised by Hammond for the park’s problems. Behind the Coke cans and sweet wrappers, there’s a film playing in a little window on one of the screens. Which film? Some hip young newcomer’s breakout masterpiece, Jaws.
Seatbelts find a way
Jeff Goldblum’s greatest addition to Jurassic Park mythology may be his Chaos Theory-inspired assertion that life finds a way, but his point is proven by Grant. As the helicopter lands on Isla Nublar, the passengers are told to buckle up, only for Grant to discover that he has two female seatbelt parts. Undeterred, he simply ties the two ends together, providing a novel solution to his problem. “Well,” as a great man once said, “there it is…”
RIP Ian Malcolm?
It’s well known that Malcolm is assumed to have died at the end of Michael Crichton’s novel (only to make a miraculous recovery in the sequel), but less known is that the same could have happened in the movie. In this interview, Goldblum recounts a discussion between he and actor Martin Ferrero (who played the cowardly lawyer Donald Gennaro). Upon meeting each other, Ferrero suggested a change to the script: instead of Gennaro dying, maybe he’d survive and Malcolm would take his place as Rexy’s dinner. Goldblum tells the story with typical humour and it’s unclear as to whether Ferrero actually suggested the idea to Spielberg, but it’s unlikely it would have happened even if he had. There’s a reason Spielberg named the shark in Jaws after his lawyer…
Jurassic Park is a metaphor for film, and Spielberg draws attention to this during the T-Rex attack. Peppering the sequence with symbols of sight (Tim looking through the night vision goggles, the Rex’s pupils dilating as she peers in at Lex), Spielberg makes a point about how we can become so absorbed with watching something spectacular that we forget to act. Grant and Malcolm fall into this trap, with the men simply gaping at what’s happening without attempting to do anything about it. Extending his critique to cinema, Spielberg creates an image that directly references film as he shoots Grant and Malcolm from behind, looking on as the Rex, illuminated by the car’s headlights, stomps into view.
Here, Grant and Malcolm are the audience, the headlights the projector, the window the cinema screen and the Rex the awesome spectacle being shown on it. Like the ‘girl in the red coat’ sequence from Schindler’s List, Spielberg is compelling audiences to use cinema not just to escape from the real world, but as an inspiration to improve it.
Nothing could possib-lie go wrong
John Hammond was a naive fool, but at least he knew his history, right? Wrong. For any Disney fans watching Jurassic Park, Hammond’s greatest mistake isn’t bio-engineering giant man-eating predators, but forgetting Disneyland’s opening year.
“When Disneyland opened in 1956, nothing worked,” he says, forgetting that Disneyland actually opened in 1955.
Dr Alan Grant And The Rejected Part
Before Sam Neill was cast in the role, Spielberg considered a number of actors for Alan Grant, including William Hurt and his three-time collaborator Richard Dreyfuss. Most intriguingly, he also approached Harrison Ford only for the Indiana Jones actor to refuse. Speaking at an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of Raiders Of The Lost Ark in 2011, Ford jokingly complained that Spielberg only casts him as Indy.
“You know who I offered Jurassic Park to?” Spielberg responded. “This guy. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park, right here.” Ford quickly moved on, but the evidence is there.
This piece of concept art features a distinctly Ford-esque Grant being chased by a T-Rex.
I hate storms, Jock. I hate ’em!
The filming of Jurassic Park was stalled by a major hurricane that hit Kauai during production. Such was the severity of the storm that the crew ended up stranded and were in need of rescue. Gladly they found salvation in the shape of a familiar face: Fred Sorenson, a commercial airline pilot who you may know better as Jock from Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Freezers, uh, find a way
Finally, this is a great, but under-reported, theory from Reddit. User terminatah focuses on the walk-in freezers that play a major part in the kitchen chase between Lex, Tim and the Raptors at the end of the film. As we know, Tim runs into the open freezer when trying to flee, and manages to make his escape when one of the Raptors slips on ice. So why was the door open? Simple: as we see earlier in the film, Hammond had been gorging himself on ice cream so it didn’t melt during the power outage. He simply forgot to shut the freezer door after doing so.
Now that is the essence of chaos.