WHEN: 9:56am EST, February 2nd, 2013
WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Had just woken up, and was a bit groggy. The film was still enjoyable, but I was more easily distracted.
– Hey! Check it out! A dusty Grant next to a DustBuster:
This may be the closest he gets to a shower.
ORIGINAL FEATURETTE ON THE MAKING OF THE FILM:
To preface this week’s viewing of Jurassic Park, I watched a short making-of featurette that appears to have come out slightly before the film. This short video (creatively titled “Original Featurette on the Making of the Film” on the Blu-ray menu) contains very little, besides a brief description of the topic of the film, and some snippets of on-set interviews with the cast and crew. It was obviously designed more to tease the movie than to provide any behind-the-scenes insight. But each special feature, no matter how small, provides us with another piece of the puzzle that is the making of a film. Let’s take a quick look.
All of the tiny (we’re talking 15 seconds) cast interviews that appear in this making-of appear to have been conducted on set. All the actors are in costume. Hell, some of them even seem to be in character. Jeff Goldblum’s section in particular could easily be part of an in-world interview with Ian Malcolm.
“They have dinosaurs here that are tremendously lethal, and uh, they’re gonna break out! You can’t keep ‘em, keep ‘em, uh, penned up. You don’t know how to do that. We don’t know how to do that. We can’t calculate how to do that, and they’ll get out.”
Several cast members make statements that could easily come from their character’s mouths. Richard Attenborough talks up the amusement park. Sam Neill expresses his skepticism about the implications of genetic engineering. Ariana Richards has a very childlike take on the dinosaurs (of course, this could be chalked up to her being a child).
Laura Dern is the only cast member who is definitively not in character.
“I love dinosaurs because I thought they were amazing and I knew a few of the names, the ones I loved. I loved the pterodactyl, I loved brachiosaurus and, you know, and the sweet ones. I wasn’t into the T-Rex.”
The dino-nerd-kid inside me needs to point out that pterodactyls are not dinosaurs. While this mistake would be unforgivable in a paleobotanist, it is pardonable for an actor.
Spielberg talks about the movie in fairly vague terms. Dinosaurs and man together for the first time? What will happen? That sort of thing. He does take a moment to hype up the raptors, and how their human-like size makes them scary. True, it does.
Crichton is interviewed briefly; his major point being that his friends at MIT told him that “it could be done.” Sadly, it has recently been discovered that, due to DNA decay rates, it cannot be done after all.
I love you, Michael Crichton. I don’t blame you for what the ’90s didn’t know.
WHAT SIGNIFICANCE DOES THIS ALL HAVE?:
Watching the movie after viewing this mini-making-of, there were a number of times when things that had been mentioned by the cast or crew caught my eye. “Hey, Grant says the same thing about humans interacting with dinosaurs that Spielberg said!” But after a split-second of thought, I realized that this is completely inconsequential.
In the end, this tiny featurette is a marketing tool meant to sell us on a movie that came out 20 years ago. Its job is to tell us, in broad strokes, why we should shell out money for a ticket. It may be that while they were filming this, Spielberg said something truly revealing. But something like that would never make the final cut, because the purpose wasn’t to satiate the curiosity of jerks like me.
Likewise, we cannot take this as an honest look at the actors. Sure, Dern comes off poorly, not knowing all that much about dinosaurs, but for all we know she did a ton of research into extinct plant life. But we would never hear about it in a promo clip like this one, because dead ferns don’t sell blockbusters.
Perhaps we could be inclined to say that, from this interview, Jeff Goldblum is indistinguishable from Ian Malcolm, so how good an actor can he really be? For all we know, he was on set, some jerks showed up with a camera, and he thought it would be a good opportunity to practice being in character. “Who really gives a crap about these puff pieces anyway?” he might have thought. Little did he know some obsessed fan would be poring over this footage 20 years after the fact.
So, this particular puzzle piece doesn’t seem to show us much of the bigger picture that is the making of Jurassic Park, but there are still a good many rumbling around in the box.