Alive Again: Revisiting Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park | Far Flungers

Although it understandably looks a bit dated at present (I was personally tickled by the brief appearance of CD-ROM equipment, for example), “Jurassic Park” is a thrilling film that holds its place well in cinema history. I may be a bit less enthusiastic about it than before, but the movie still has its own wonder and imagination unlike the forgettable sequels that followed. And while it may not be one of Spielberg’s best works, it deserves to be regarded as a classic. 

“Jurassic Park” goes along with its premise without being too serious, and it magnificently delivers what it promises. Yes, we all knew we were going to see dinosaurs before going into the theater at that time, but we could not help but admire its series of awe-inspiring sights including a gigantic Brachiosaurus on lunchtime, and we fully identified with what the characters feel in front of these amazing sights. I know now that, as old cousins of birds, many dinosaurs might have been furrier than we imagined, but the movie still reminds me of how enthusiastic I was about dinosaurs just like many kids eagerly memorizing those long names of various dinosaurs.

Spielberg and his crew effectively used CGI as another new tool available to them along with the older kinds of special effects. The CGI in the movie is deftly mixed with live-action models to create very believable illusions on the screen, and the result is more distinctive and palpable than the bland spectacles we usually get during summer blockbuster season nowadays. While CGI allowed more kinetic freedom for the dinosaurs in the film, more traditional special effects were also crucial in making them look and feel like living animals. That is why that intimate encounter scene with a Brachiosaurus, which depended a lot on animatronics, carries an equal weight to the majestic CGI introduction scene of Brachiosaurus in full view.

Stan Winston, Dennis Murren, Phil Tippett, and Michael Lantieri deservedly received a Best Special Effects Oscar for their work, and the movie also won two Oscars for its sound mixing and sound editing. We will probably never discover how dinosaurs actually sounded like, but the sound department did a very good job of making the creature sound effects both plausible and believable. In addition, John Williams’ score superbly enhances many amazing sights in the film, and it is a shame that it was not Oscar-nominated along with his equally memorable score for Spielberg’s great film “Schindler’s List” (1993), which, along with “Jurassic Park,” has made for the greatest one-two punch in Spielberg’s long and illustrious career.  

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