20 Things You Somehow Missed In Jurassic Park
Foreshadowing, a cameo and the Godfather inspired death...
Ironically enough, given that it's all about the preservation of ancient wonders, there have been few films that have aged quite as well as Jurassic Park. Despite its heavy use of special effects that are now 27 years out of date, the movie still holds up against a lot of today's blockbuster fare and, somehow, manages to look a lot better than its own modern sequels.
Few films before or since have gripped audiences of all ages quite like this. The '90s convention of a huge summer blockbuster wasn't invented with this film, but it's arguably where the concept hit a critical and cultural peak. Jurassic Park was, in 1993, was bigger than even the stunningly-realised creatures its marketing was based around.
While its legacy can (and will) be talked about for another 27 years, there's still plenty to be gleaned from a high-definition re-watch. Spielberg's attention to detail was peerless at the time, and the number of incredible odes, references, tributes, and hidden gems he managed to include here is simply extraordinary.
So from his own directorial trademarks to genius motifs of the plot itself, let's take a look an article that's 27 years in the making.
20. Spielberg's Hidden Cameo
Unlike some of his contemporaries who love to write themselves a prominent role in a movie (I'm looking at you, Quentin), Steven Spielberg is very rarely seen in front of the cameras. Austin Powers probably being his most notable on-screen appearance.
He does play a very small part in Jurassic Park though, seen here supervising the unloading of the Velociraptor from early in the movie. He's the one with the beard...
In front of the gate...?
With the white shirt...?
You might have to squint a bit.
19. Mr. DNA Was No More Than Clever Exposition
While receiving the tour of the facility, Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, and Ian Malcolm are given a video presentation about how the park was conceived by a very friendly animated strain of acid called Mr. DNA. While it's a bit of a hokey scene and incredibly heavy on the exposition, it was a request made by the filmmakers to try and control the budget.
By having one cheesy scene that explains the entire premise of the film, how they discovered the dinosaurs, and how they subsequently built the park, it saved millions of dollars on the writing and filming required to transmit that information to the audience otherwise. Not to mention keeping the runtime down.
18. "Must Go Faster" Was A Stolen Line
Around half-way through the movie, Dr. Sattler and Muldoon head out into the park to try and find what happened to the two explorers. Dr. Grant and the children are missing, Gennaro is found in multiple pieces, but Ian Malcom is just about still-alive an in need to help. After getting him onto the jeep, they're found by the Rex.
A chase scene (one of the film's best) ensues and, with the Rex quickly gaining ground on the group, Malcolm utters line "must go faster". Director Roland Emmerich liked it so much that when he found himself working with Jeff Goldblum the following year, he had it written into the script of Independence Day.
In that blockbuster, Goldblum says it to Will Smith's Captain Hiller as they attempt to escape the alien mothership.
17. The Dinosaurs Are Barely In It
As well as being the entire premise of the movie, it's hard to argue that dinosaurs aren't also the stars of Jurassic Park. Virtually all of the film's most memorable or iconic moments involve them, and it's hard to recall any major scenes where they don't feature in some capacity.
However, when totted up across the 2 hour, 7 minute runtime, dinosaurs are actually only on screen for a grand total of... 15 minutes. Even more extraordinary, is that for all of the praise over the films digital effects work, CG dinosaurs only make up 6 of those 15 minutes.
16. Laura Dern Cried For Real
Laura Dern's performance is often picked out as one of the highlights of the entire movie, but her experience of Jurassic Park was also a lot more real than it might have looked.
Firstly, in the scene in which Ellie is attacked by the raptor in the maintenance corridor, the tears streaming down her face were not originally part of the script. She was, in fact, crying for real as the way the shot had been constructed genuinely terrified her.
Slightly more subtly though, her character flirting with Ian Malcolm also had its roots planted in reality, as she began a relationship with Jeff Goldblum after the film as a result of their time together on-set.
15. Nedry's Desk Has Several Easter Eggs
When we're reintroduced to Dennis Nedry in the Jurassic Park control room, his computer is home to veritable treasure trove of movie easter eggs.
One subtle inclusion is a small picture of Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called Father of the Atomic Bomb, who is arguably the poster boy for man's fear of its own creation.
On a lighter note though, a small window on the screen of his computer can clearly be seen playing the movie Jaws. Not only a nod to Steven Spielberg's previous work, but also the first time in his career he worked with animatronic animals.
14. The Storm's Narrative Importance
Jurassic Park's production was plagued by the arrival of Hurricane Iniki onto the movie's sets. This forced a number of changes to the schedule, as well as elements of the operation to be moved back to Los Angeles for the remainder of the shoot. Ironic, really, as the arrival of a major storm is also a plot point of the movie.
However what often passes viewers by is that the storm in the film is not merely there to fill in the narrative holes of the story, but to dramatically illustrate man's inability to effectively control nature.
As well as the creatures in the park running amok, InGen's state-of-the-art facility is entirely undone by, of all things, some weather.
13. The Dilophosaurus Doesn't Move
To get the exact look he was after, Steven Spielberg had to effectively invent new forms of creature design and new ways in which to film them. The advances this movie made in digital effects are still being felt today, as too are the elaborate animatronics that comprised the bulk of the dinosaurs seen on-screen.
However, one thing the production crew wasn't satisfied with, was the Dilophosaurus. Specifically, that they couldn't find a convincing way to make it move on-screen. Every attempt either seemed too light or heavy for its body, so in the end they compromised and had it stand still in every shot.
12. All Of The Gift Shop Merch Was Real
As well as being an enormous success at the box office, Jurassic Park was one of the biggest commercial successes in cinema history. The marketing and merchandise budgets dwarfed the $63m cost of production, but also recouped considerably more than the $83m the film made at the box office in its opening week.
Part of was down to the 100 separate licensing agreements Universal had reached prior to production, and the genius decision to include only official merchandise in the movie's own gift shop.
Everything seen on-screen, from toys, figures, clothes, lunchboxes, even a book titled "The Making of Jurassic Park", could be purchased in real-life.
11. How The Ice Was On The Freezer Floor
During the terrifying game of cat-and-mouse between Tim, Lex, and the two Velociraptors, there's a moment in the kitchen that's usually considered a bit of a plot hole. Tim runs into the freezer room where, somehow, the floor just happens to be covered in ice.
Despite this being very convenient for a small child with rubber-soled sneakers, it's actually a testament to the detail that went into the writing. Prior to this scene, John Hammond is eating the ice cream that would otherwise have defrosted due to the power being out, this would no doubt have caused water to leak from the freezers and onto the floor.
However, after this Dr. Sattler is able to restore power to the park. This would reactivate the freezers and, as a result, cause the water on the floor to freeze back over.
10. The Secret ACGT Message
One of the movie's most iconic visuals sees the Velociraptors stalking Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, Tim, and Lex as they attempt to escape through the ceiling crawl space. One of the raptors rears up on its legs, stretches its neck out, and attempts to sniff them out, while the phosphorous green glow of a computer monitor patterns its skin.
This is often incorrectly attributed to being light reflected through the bars of the ceiling grate, but it's actually the letters ACGT. Specifically, an abbreviation of Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine, the four key components of DNA.
9. The Triceratops Is Actually Very Colourful (And Muddy)
Another iconic moment in the film sees Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, Ian Malcolm and assorted park employees attempting to treat a Triceratops with a bad stomach. They check it over, inspect its eyes, and Sam Neil even takes a moment to appreciate the miraculous beauty of the creature.
Not in a weird way.
But in a decision that probably went down incredibly badly with the people who designed the creatures, the Triceratops was originally bright and colourful. Purples, greens, yellows, its hide was one of the most visually stunning things in the entire film, until Effects Coordinator Stan Winston took one look at it, decided it didn't match its surroundings well enough, and covered it in mud.
8. The Reworked Picasso Classic
In 1937, Pablo Picasso created "Guernica", an oil painting that's still, to this day, considered to be one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.
Depicting the horrendous ariel bombing of the Spanish town of the same name, its ability to invoke horror and anxiety is undisputed in that art world.
Wanting to recreate a slice of said horror and anxiety, Spielberg commissioned a special Dinosaur-themed reworking of the painting to be displayed in the visitor's centre. It can briefly be seen behind John Hammond later in the film and, well, very weird flex but ok?
7. One Death Was Inspired By The Godfather
Despite surviving - and being a far nicer character - in Michael Crighton's novel, Donald Gennaro meets Jurassic Park's grizzliest fate at the hands, and teeth, of the T-Rex.
It's not immediately obvious, but when he initially makes it into the toilet stall he begins to mutter a Hail Mary.
This was, according to actor Martin Ferrero, an idea he took from one of the final scenes of The Godfather: Part II, where Fredo mutters his own Hail Mary prayer prior to Neri killing him on Lake Tahoe.
6. The Raptors Kill For Sport
There's an interesting line in The Lost World: Jurassic Park where the expedition's leader Peter Ludlow reassures the terrified group that "the rex just fed, so he won't be hunting for a while". While that's a callous way to refer to the man whose just been eaten alive, it's also entirely correct.
Which makes the behavior of the Velociraptors in this movie quite curious. In the final act of the movie they kill Robert Muldoon and Ray Arnold - two fully grown adults who would likely feed a pack of Raptors for a number of days - yet continue to hunt Tim, Lex, Dr. Grant, and Dr. Sattler.
While it's never stated on screen, this is because they're not hunting to eat, they're hunting for sport. One of the franchise's many hints at their intelligence.
5. "Why Didn't I Build In Orlando?"
Faced with the impending problems created by the incoming storm, John Hammond reflects on the park's tropical location with the line "why didn't I build in Orlando?"
It's an amusing throw-away line but it's also a little joke being had at the expense of Universal Studios, the movie's distributors.
Universal, you see, had two theme parks all of their own at the time, and both were situated in Orlando. One of them, Universal Orlando Resort, is currently home to the Jurassic Park River Adventure, which incorporates elements of the movie into a log flume ride. They've spared no expense...
4. How The End Is Foreshadowed
Early in the movie, Dr. Sattler comments that "these are aggressive living things that have no idea what century they're in, and they'll defend themselves, violently if necessary". It's a neat line of foreshadowing but it also gives away how they can be defeated.
In Jurassic Park, whenever a character is caught by one of the dinosaurs in the wild, that's the end of them. Gennaro on the toilet, Muldoon in the jungle, even Nedry on the waterfall, all of them are made short work of.
However when they're able to take the creatures into man-man settings, like Tim and Lex in the kitchen, the escape in the jeep, or the final scene of the film, the humans are able to use their environment to survive.
3. The Subtle Eye Level Changes
The movie's smartest visual motif is one you're almost certain to have been oblivious to. In the first half of the movie, whenever a character is looking at a dinosaur on-screen, they are doing so below eye-level. The birth of the raptor eggs, the sick Triceratops, "they do move in herds", all of this is from a high-to-low perspective.
However, the second half of the film flips this entirely, where all shots are now of the characters looking up at the dinosaurs. Everything with the T-Rex goes without saying, but Tim and Lex crawl along the floor in the kitchen, the brachiosaurus looms over Dr. Grant, and even Muldoon crouches down to hunt the raptor. Very simply, this is to represent the changing levels of control in the park.
The big exception to this is the initial scene where Grant and Sattler first encounter the brachiosaurus, as this is used to represent the marvel and wonder at the park's premise.
2. The Seatbelt Foreshadowing
"Life finds a way" is, arguably, Jurassic Park's most enduring quote, but it's only used by Ian Malcolm as a retort when Dr. Wu asks "you're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed?".
It's a fair question, but one that's smartly foreshadowed slightly earlier in the movie. When making the bumpy descent in the park's helicopter, Dr. Grant frantically fumbles around with his seatbelt only to be left holding the two "female" ends of the buckle. Thinking on his feet he simply ties them together, forming a makeshift belt.
It wasn't life itself on display here but, nonetheless, he found a way.
1. "We Spared No Expense" Is Repeated FIVE Times
Another profound quote from the movie sees John Hammond say "we spared no expense" no less than five times.
First when he's asking Grant and Sattler to visit, then later when they arrive at the park, again when introducing the presentation, later on the electric-cars and, finally, as a bit of hubris while eating the defrosting ice cream.
The irony in this, of course, is that the power outages and the ultimate collapse of the park is down to the actions of Dennis Nedry, a man we discover is only working there because of how low his bid was to run the park's systems.
If Hammond had spared no expense there, none of this would have happened.