The original Jurassic Park (released 1993), is also one of my favourite films, the main reason being, because it was the first dinosaur film I’d ever seen where it didn’t look like a person in a rubber dinosaur suit or a really crap model of a dinosaur. Those were the films I grew up with and I always loved prehistory and had many books about dinosaurs as a child.
They utterly fascinated me and I did think about becoming someone who would look for fossils and dinosaur bones!
When this film came out it was astonishing, compelling and utterly terrifying. The raptors in the kitchen scene and their tap-tapping on the units was the stuff of nightmares.
At that time, the special effects were amazing. A mixture of practical effects and computer-generated imagery was used to create the film. The film makers didn’t lean too heavily on computer imagery, but mixed animatronic puppets and digital effects and careful use of lighting to make sure Jurassic Park worked.
Stan Wintson was the technician responsible for creating the practical models for Predator and Terminator, as well as this film. He built everything from the animatronic puppets to full-size animatronic T-Rex and Velociraptor suits that could be worn by stuntmen.
The computer graphics used in the film were pioneering, and not surprisingly, the film won the visual effects award at the 1994 Oscars.
Things have moved on incredibly since when Ray Harryhausen managed to elevate stop motion animation to an art, and was what was used in the 1950s onwards to bring creatures to life, such as fighting skeletons, the minotaur, the kraken in films like Sinbad, and Clash of the Titans as late as 1981. Even though I love those old films, Jurassic Park was a game changer for me.
Now, sadly, many people make fun of the first Jurassic Park film because CGI has improved vastly since then, yet I think it was fantastic with a wonderful cast, particularly Sam Neill who for me is an under-valued actor.
The other thing about this film is that the music by John Williams, is utterly iconic. It immediately takes you back in time and the themes create suspense, so you know what’s coming. The music is absolutely key to the emotional attachment to this film and you only have to hear the first few notes to be at those great tall gates.
6 Facts about the film:
- The movie and book generated so much interest in dinosaurs that the study of palaeontology had a record increase in students.
- The roar of the Tyrannosaurus Rex was a composite mix of a dog, penguin, tiger’s snarl, alligator’s gurgle and a baby elephant’s squeal.
- When it rained, the T. Rex occasionally malfunctioned and scared everyone by suddenly coming to life!
- The T. Rex weighed 12,000 pounds, and was extremely powerful, so the crew had to have safety meetings about it, and flashing lights would announce its arrival on set!
- Universal Pictures paid Prof Michael Crichton $2 million for the rights to his novel before it was even published. What a visionary man he was…
- At the Oscars in 1994, the film won Best Sound; Best Effects, Sound Effects
Best Effects, Visual Effects.
In the franchise the other films have been:
The Lost World (1997); Jurassic Park lll (2001); Jurassic World (2015); Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018); Jurassic World Dominion (2022).
Funnily enough the new film, Jurassic World Dominion has many references to the first film and that’s no accident because it was the best of them all. I’ve loved the sequels however that first film will forever be my absolute favourite…