June 14, 1993 [Jurassic Park]

I'm thinking of George Orwell's comment about the gazelle, how it's an animal that looks good to eat when it's alive, because in my dream I'm running quickly through the sunny jungle behind Laura Dern trapped in Jurassic Park--and she sprints ahead of me like a young athlete, that leggy girl with the pug nose from high school who really turns it on as she heads for the finish line--just like Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween.  And sure, I know Laura's in mortal danger, but even then she looks cute--no matter that real dinosaurs are after her, things so smart and ruthless they scare Sam Neill--things scarier than Richard Attenborough more than twenty years after he lived at 10 Rillington Place, little Mr. Christie hunting down his own females of the species.

--But the dinosaurs, the real ones Spielberg has in his movie, are not merely creatures:  Neill does something so many have yearned to do when he hugs that triceratops, Laura cooing and making icky faces; and the brontosauruses--or whatever they call them in the movie (and I don't care: they're brontos, and always will be, just like the little blue plastic ones Pete had in his collection)--stately as they pull at treetops; and the fleeing herd graceful as white herons at full tilt--but yes, also scary, just like monsters when the velociraptors hunt the children in the kitchen, ha-ha, dinner almost served.

--But in the dream it's quiet--I know there are dinosaurs because Laura is still running, and she's gaining speed, leaving me behind.  I'm not tired, of course, but I slow and stop in the absolutely quiet darkening trees, and suddenly I'm afraid because it's catching up with me--not the velociraptor, that's one I'm not sure I even knew about before the movie. No, it's the T. Rex, the one you fear with an electric shudder that vibrates its way up the back of your head like a clenching hand from millions of years ago and gives you a good piece of advice--Run!--that you haven't forgotten, ever.

--But I don't run, I stand there and hear the prelude of a growl and wake up.  Next to me, Jean makes a little noise as I lie there frozen, and it makes me want to jump out of bed--but the dream's logic is still with me, so instead I fall asleep again and find myself in another dream.  I can't remember it, except that my car breaks down on a deserted road that curves through a thick forest, also for the moment silent.


  1. Great piece! I saw this at 9 in the movie theater, and it was a signature event of my childhood. Still a fun Spielberg entertainment, if not up there with E.T. or Close Encounters. Sometimes I think it was the last live-action movie to make equivocally good use of CGI.

  2. You're right, Joel, about the CGI. The famous story--that originally it was going to be stop-motion animation and animatronics and puppets--speaks to the final effect: He combined everything (except the stop-motion) to achieve some of the most satisfying set-pieces in the history of special effects. The fact that it still looks almost-perfect attests to his obsessions.


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