The science-fiction adventure film Jurassic Park is only the 17th film in history to surpass $1 billion in ticket sales. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the 1993 blockbuster is set in a futuristic world where dinosaurs have been brought back to life through DNA.
They reside on an island called Isla Nublar, in Costa Rica, where billionaire philanthropist John Hammond has opened a theme park with a visitor centre, enabling members of the public to see the cloned dinosaurs close-up. However, industrial saboteurs create mayhem and cause a catastrophic shutdown of the park’s power supply.
With the security system turned off and without power, the dinosaurs escape and run amok, leaving a group of visitors and Hammond’s own grandchildren running for their life as they try to flee the killer beasts.
The film was based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel, Jurassic Park, with the screenplay written by Crichton and David Koepp. It was made on a big budget of $63 million, but the massive box office takings of $1.029 billion more than made up for this.
Filming took place in Hawaii and California between August and November 1992, following more than two years in the pre-production stage, with post-production continuing until May 1993. The film won more than 20 awards, including three Academy Awards for its technical achievements and visual effects.
Exciting action is provided by a mixture of live action, innovative computer-generated imagery created by Industrial Light and Magic and life-size animatronic dinosaurs, created by a special effects team led by Stan Winston.
An all-star cast included Richard Attenborough as John Hammond, Sam Neill as palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant, Laura Dern as palaeobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Dr Ian Malcolm and Samuel L Jackson as the park’s chief engineer, Ray Arnold.
Hammond’s grandchildren, eight-year-old Lex and her brother, 11-year-old Tim Murphy, are enjoying a tour of the park when the power goes off.
While the technicians attempt to repair the power fault and contain the dinosaurs again, the children and the adults in the group are fighting to survive, as all types of dinosaurs try to attack them.
T-Rex v Raptors
One of the most exciting moments in the film is the T-Rex versus the Raptors scene, which starts off in the air vents.
An abbreviation for the Velociraptor, the Raptor is a dinosaur dating from the late Cretaceous period. As it better suited the plot, the Raptors in Jurassic Park were actually around one metre taller than the real-life dinosaurs.
The animatronic T-Rex was six metres high, 12 metres long and weighed in at a massive six tonnes. American palaeontologist, Jack Horner (the film’s technical adviser), said it was the closest he had ever been to a “live dinosaur”. The T-Rex’s mighty roar was created by combining the roars of a tiger, an elephant and an alligator.
The scene begins as the party of visitors, including Dr Grant, Dr Sattler, Lex and Tim, attempt to escape from the beleaguered visitor complex by crawling through the air vents. All seems to be going well, until a Raptor in the room below senses their presence and suddenly jumps up and head-butts the ceiling.
Its head appears in the air vent and it’s only thanks to quick-thinking Dr Grant, who kicks the dinosaur down to the floor, that Lex is saved. This is why the larger-than-life Raptors fitted the plot better – had they been actual size, they couldn’t possibly have jumped up to the ceiling-level air vents!
Having safely navigated the air vents, the party pops out in a display room, hoping they have outwitted the Raptors. However, within seconds, the dinosaurs are upon them again and the situation looks bleak as they are surrounded by Raptors baying for their blood.
Just when it seems they’re going to be the dinosaurs’ dinner, there’s a mighty roar and a T-Rex appears, grabbing a Raptor and killing it. Another Raptor thunders towards the T-Rex and leaps on to its back, biting it at the same time, but it’s no match for the giant dinosaur, who casts it to one side like a rag doll.
As the dinosaurs do battle, the visitors take their chance and flee outside, with Hammond whisking them off to relative safety in his Jeep. This is the climax of the film, as the party heads off to meet the helicopter that’s about to fly them off the island to safety.
Jurassic Park spawned a series of sequels, including The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997, Jurassic Park III in 2001, Jurassic World in 2015 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018. Jurassic World 3 is already planned, with the release date scheduled for June 2021.
Universal Parks and Resorts’ theme parks include a Jurassic Park ride. The first was built at Universal Studios in Hollywood in June 1996, at a cost of $110 million. The second was built at Universal Studios in Japan in 2001.
The Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, has a Jurassic Park section that includes the main ride, Jurassic Park River Adventure, plus many smaller rides. There’s also a Jurassic Park zone at Universal Studios in Singapore, with rides including the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure.
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