Here we take a detailed look at the story and how it relates to Magical Realism.
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
– – the other raptor spots him. Both raptors go into a preattack
crouch – –
A “Preattack crouch”
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:
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
Grant looks at the bids and breaks into a wide grin.
The birds reform as flock again and fly straight into the sun.
You know, if you really wanted to scare the kid you
could’ve just pulled a gun on him.
Yeah, I know, you know…kids. You want to have one of
Well, not one of those, well yeah, a possibly one at
some point could be a good thing. What’s so wrong with
Oh, Ellie, look. They’re noisy, they’re messy, they’re
sticky, they’re expensive.
Cheap, cheap, cheap.
Oh my god, they do not! They don’t smell.
They do smell. Some of them smell.. babies smell.
Alright, the one on the airplane had an accident, but
usually babies don’t smell.
They know very little about the Jurassic Period they
know less about the Cretaceous.
Anything else, you old fossil?
Yeah, plenty. Some of them can’t walk!
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
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
Ah, perfect timing! I’d hoped they’d hatch before I had
to go to the boat.
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.
Come on, then, out you come.
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!