Our thanks to Jordan for taking the time to review Jurassic Park with me today.

Here we take a detailed look at the story and how it relates to Magical Realism.

Enjoy!

Hey guys. This week I will be reviewing Jurassic Park. I thought about it and I think the best idea for me would be to review this screenplay from a Magical Realist perspective. It’s my favorite genre and it is relatively obscure. Although it is it’s own genre, IMO it can be found and utilized in any other genre. Magical Realism (MR), in a nutshell, can be described in two ways: treating the magical as ordinary or treating the ordinary as magical.

Visualize with me for a second if you would. What would it be like if you entered a time machine and went 100 years into the future? You would exit the time machine and everything would be different to you, but absolutely normal to everyone else. In MR there would be no one to hold your hand and guide you along all the changes that took place over the last 100 years. You would have to put the pieces together yourself. MR is just that, experiencing a world that has already been established, with no more progression needed, except for the plot of course. With MR there is no “envelope” to push. The envelope has already been pushed, many many times. We are just catching up to, or observing it. That’s the whole process. Obviously most movies don’t deal with MR, at least on a large scale setting with whole new worlds. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just not MR.

The biggest example of MR in real life that I can think of is the arrival of Columbus to the New World. To me, everything about that experience screams MR. There is a book called The Conquest of New Spain, by one of Cortez’s soldiers that I believe is a prime example of MR. An example of a TV show which exhibits MR on a large scale is Futurama. A small example of MR would be Brian, the dog, from the Family Guy. It’s never explained why he can talk and it is “almost never” considered weird or out of place for a dog to talk. One time I remember Peter’s boss was at the house and he commented on the family’s “Talking Dog”… but I don’t think the writers were shooting for MR anyways. A Simpson’s example would be the blue hair, although I do remember instances where it was “explained.”

My personal conclusion on MR is this: MR is the friction that happens when different “realities” are introduced to each other. This can happen between characters, between writer and reader, in the plot, dialogue, and basically between anybody reading or writing or in the script.

The script, Jurassic Park, IMO, is loaded with MR. I also think it is loaded with both types. Just off the top of my head, visiting Dinosaurs in their natural habitat would be a great example of Latin American (LA) MR. Smaller examples would be the T-Rex biting into the tire, the Velociraptors opening the door. These examples were experienced by the Dinosaurs themselves. Another one would be the raptor trying to rip off the gate in the bunker while trying to get to Dr. Sattler.

MR can be found in characters too… Do the time machine again but instead of observing a whole world, just observe one person and go only 20 years into the future. The person will have a whole set of antics, anecdotes, sayings, personality, etc… I think good examples of this were Hammond and Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson’s character). One phrase I liked from Arnold was “Hold onto your butts.” When writing a character with MR the writer is not piggbacking off whatever is funny at the time or the jokes of the time the movie is written. I think a great example of this was Zach Galifinakis’ character from the Hangover. He just seemed so demented to me. I think the writers did a really good job of giving him his own personality “set”. Almost like they took someone already demented, fast forwarded him 20 years, and got all the original thoughts he would have in each situation.

Anyways, here are some examples I found while reading the script that I consider good examples of MR

__________________

PAGE 135
– – the other raptor spots him. Both raptors go into a preattack
crouch – –

A “Preattack crouch”
______________________

PAGE 140

The animal flips over onto its feet and crouches to pounce just
as Grant summons his strength and jerks Lex back into the ceiling.

The raptor springs, but too late. Grant and Lex scramble over
to the air duct and join Ellie and Tim inside it.

This shows again how the raptor jumps at its prey.
______________________

Example of European MR:

PAGE 144

The helicopter sweeps low over a huge flock of sea birds that’s
feeding on a school of fish. As the chopper ROARS near, it kicks up the
flock. Hundreds of birds sail off in all directions, powerful and
graceful.

Grant looks at the bids and breaks into a wide grin.

The birds reform as flock again and fly straight into the sun.
_______________________

Page 11
ELLIE
You know, if you really wanted to scare the kid you
could’ve just pulled a gun on him.

GRANT
Yeah, I know, you know…kids. You want to have one of
those?

ELLIE
Well, not one of those, well yeah, a possibly one at
some point could be a good thing. What’s so wrong with
kids?

GRANT
Oh, Ellie, look. They’re noisy, they’re messy, they’re
sticky, they’re expensive.

ELLIE
Cheap, cheap, cheap.

GRANT
They smell.

ELLIE
Oh my god, they do not! They don’t smell.

GRANT
They do smell. Some of them smell.. babies smell.

ELLIE
Alright, the one on the airplane had an accident, but
usually babies don’t smell.

GRANT
They know very little about the Jurassic Period they
know less about the Cretaceous.

ELLIE
The what?

GRANT
The Cretaceous.

ELLIE
Anything else, you old fossil?

GRANT
Yeah, plenty. Some of them can’t walk!

ELLIE
It frustrates me so much that I love you, that I need to
strangle you right now!

This, IMO is an example of poorly used MR. Grant and Sattler seemed like they had already talked about having a kid and seemed to be serious in their relationship, but this conversation seems like it is their first time talking abou it..

_____________________________

“Spared no expense”

This phrase, in my opinion, is a small scale MR look into the character John Hammond.

______________________________

Another example of MR

PAGE 33

HATCHERY/NURSERY DAY
The hatchery is a vast, open room, bathed in infrared light.
Long tables run the length of the place, all covered with eggs, their
pale outlines obscured by hissing low mist that’s all through the room.

_____________

Example of European MR

PAGE 33

WU
Ah, perfect timing! I’d hoped they’d hatch before I had
to go to the boat.

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PAGE 34

Another example of European MR.

Hammond puts on a pair of plastic gloves.
The egg begins to crack. The robotic arm moves away….a BABY
DINOSAUR tries to get out, just its head sticking out of the shell.
Hammond reaches down and carefully breaks away egg fragments,
helping the baby dinosaur out of its shell.

HAMMOND
Come on, then, out you come.

HAMMOND (cont’d)
They imprint on the first living creature they come in
contact with. That helps them to trust me. I’ve been
present for the birth of every animal on this Island.
Just look at that.
__________________

Overall, I think Jurassic Park explodes with MR. I loved the movie and thoroughly enjoyed reading this script. I hope that maybe you have learned something from this review and look forward to discussing this in further detail in the future! Happy Reading!

Now that you’ve finished feel free to jump over to Hank’s Review.

Please keep comments here (so we’re all on the same page), and don’t miss Jordan’s project Dark Past which we’ll review this Sunday!

9 COMMENTS

  1. Jordan,

    What an excellent review my friend. Loved it.

    Looking at the script from the lense of MR would never have occurred to me, but it yielded some great insight. Both into this particular script and popular culture in general.

    The Simpsons and The Family Guy, for sure, but Zak G. in the Hangover– never would have put that together, very nicely reasoned. As I think about it now, his whole persona could be an exercise in MR.

    My favorite, though, was your:

    “…personal conclusion on MR is this: MR is the friction that happens when different โ€œrealitiesโ€ are introduced to each other. This can happen between characters, between writer and reader, in the plot, dialogue, and basically between anybody reading or writing or in the script. ”

    What a great take on the genre. Especially loved how you made the author and the work distinct entitities and how this separation could influence the interpretation of the creation in the reader’s mind. Derrida would approve ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sorry it took me so long to respond, I’ve been working all day.

    This was a great review. I hope we can corral you into doing it again sometime.

    • Thanks! I’m trying to widen my repertoire for reviewing/writing/etc… trying to find podcasts to listen to at work… know any good ones? Maybe you and Hank should start one? I’m listening to the grim reader and a few others at the moment…

  2. Also love the stage setting with the time machine thought experiment. That’s a great way of getting into the material.

  3. My pleasure… Definitely a learning experience for me… Yeah feel free to call upon me any time… I’ll do mu’best!

    • Awesome, we will certainly do it.

      I’m not up on the podcasts. I could recommend August/Mazin, but even that would be by hearsay only ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. What an interesting approach to take with such familiar material. It has always been my feeling that Magical Realism as a literary genre is uniquely influenced by the cinema. Jordan has engagingly turned the tables on that concept.

    Roy you should know better than to get me started on Jorge Luis Borges and Jaques Derrida. The paltry internet lacks the bandwidth.

    Although he is regarded as a surrealist, in this context I would recommend Jean Cocteau’s beautiful film Orphee.

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