Monday, February 15, 2010

Movie Magic and Make Believe

Who knew that besides being a knitter, actor, singer, mask-maker, and defamer of flamboyant bloggers, I was a literary critic? So here goes-

I try to read before bed every night just to keep my mind fresh, and my most recent read was "Jurassic Park" by Michael Crichton. The movie was playing on HBO all through the beginning of January, and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for watching people get ripped to pieces by giant, scary lizards... or as Dr. Grant would suggest, giant leathery birds.

The movie has always been one of my favorites- Steven Spielberg shockingly made an amazing movie that captured the magic of what Michael Crichton's novel set into motion. Mr. Spielberg's ability to use brand new technology and the scoring of the amazing John Williams to bring us into this unbelievable world filled with animals that precede humanity by several million years is uncanny. It takes the vision of someone who truly understands how magical this idea is to make a movie like Jurassic Park successful.

So after watching this movie that uses such superb imagery and affective storytelling, I decided to read the original book. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by the book. I understand that Michael Crichton is a more scientific writer than a visual one, and I did appreciate the amount of time he spent explaining the complex science that (theoretically) would go into cloning extinct animals. However, I felt the moments that required more thrill or magic, more awe in the face of this dramatic discovery, were sort of breezed over. I felt like some of the amazement of being thrown into this world where man and beast are abrasively propelled into a game of survival was just a matter of explanation rather than description.

I thought Crichton's rhetoric is what suffered the most. His ability to describe the moment in detail and suck you into this very visual world was surrendered in place of explaining the science. For that reason, I enjoyed the movie more because it focused more on the drama of the situation than explaining how the situation came to be. I thought Spielberg used as much of the exposition as he needed to explain the story, and then told the real story.

I also felt that Crichton ended the book reasonably abruptly- There was Hammond's death (sorry for those of you who haven't read it, but in all fairness, it's almost 20 years old), they follow the velociraptors into a cave, they get on a helicopter, and it's over. I just think there could have been more excitement. Even the parts that were thrilling, or should have been, lacked any exciting description or detail. It was very choppy.

Anyway, I'm sorry this couldn't be a more in-depth entry, but I'm in tech for a show and can't devote much time. The next post will be more detailed, I promise! Consider my writing here a tribute to Mr. Crichton.

I've started a new knitting project, as my sweater is on hold while I wait for more wool. Some capped fingerless mittens in pink with pink/green/white argyle caps. Should be fun.



  1. You know.... I was at Jurassic Park just last week..... I love visiting my Great Aunt and her friends.


  2. Haha yeah, I've been there =P

    Well, not to your great Aunt's, but you know...

  3. Several of the best movies of the late 70s, 80s, and 90s were based on books and actually improved on the novel. Some of that was style, but a lot of that has to do with the medium. There are certain effects that can only be achieved though visuals, a look, a surprise, etc...

    That being said, I remember really enjoying "The Eaters of the Dead" which was turned into The 13th Warrior.