Sunday, August 18, 2013

Books to Movies: Jurassic Park

Adam C. Zern comments on the film adaptation of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park:

"Michael Crichton must love Steven Spielberg.  Of all of the film adaptations of Crichton's books, at least that I have seen, none even come close to Spielberg's brilliantly entertaining Jurassic ParkJurassic Park the film strips down much of the book—omitting characters, dinosaurs, and details—in favor of streamlining the experience into a few key moments and a few key ideas.  The result is one of the best summer films ever made, and it immortalizes the book that inspired it.  (Does anyone really remember Sphere?). 

I remember really enjoying the book; in fact, even after all of these years (it's been probably over ten years since I've read it), I remember loving it.  It was exciting and interesting.  It was also very full—lots of dialogue and lots of exposition.  Crichton wasn't bound by budgets or technology and he takes full advantage of that freedom.  The book also made sure to conclude as much as possible the mystery of what would happen to the dinosaurs after their untimely escapes.  It provided all of the detail one would want from a science-fiction adventure.  The film, however, takes a different tactic.

The film's purpose is clear.  It is meant to awe and inspire with sights never before seen.  What must it be like to actually see a real-live dinosaur?  Watching Jurassic Park is perhaps the closest any of us will come.  We're meant to live vicariously through the film's characters who are thrown amidst pre-historic monsters, and our reaction is essentially the same as theirs.  At first we're giddy with childish wonderment, and then we're paralyzed in horror when the objects of our admiration turn into the harbingers of our deepest fears.  Yet, Jurassic Park the film doesn't entirely abandon interesting ideas in favor of being just a monster movie.  In one masterfully crafted scene, Spielberg is able to introduce the greatest moral dilemmas presented by the book and give the film a new level of value and importance.  The exploration of moral and ethical issues doesn’t last long, though; there are dinosaurs to be seen and humans to frighten.

Jurassic Park the film is one of the best film adaptations I have ever seen.  As I have said before, a good film adaptation is always a good film first and then an adaptationJurassic Park the film is not a pure translation of the book that inspired it, and that's one reason it's fantastic.  Like Jaws before it, Spielberg knew he was making a film and not a book on screen.  Jurassic Park the book is a lot of fun and well worth the read, but the film provides some of the best entertainment of its medium.  It did that by honoring its inspiration but also by not being bound too tightly by it."

Other Topics of Interest:
Books to Movies: Jaws
Books to Movies: The Prestige
Adaptation, Please: The Candy Bombers

1 comment: