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Christopher Burns Christopher Burns
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Jurassic Park'

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A story 20 years in the making

Very seldom does a movie come along that changes the way we think. More often movies come and go, entertaining us briefly, their residence in our lives and consciousness ephemeral. Everyone has that special one that they share with friends uncultured enough to have never seen it, which rarely gathers dust on the shelf, and the mere act of re-watching is a carefully choreographed ritual. There are many contenders out there, but above all there is only one for me: 'Jurassic Park.'

Recently I found myself watching 'Jurassic Park' for the first time in a while. Struck by a sense of longing for one of the last fossils of my childhood, I decided it was time. So I dusted it off and popped it into the DVD player - 20 years ago to the month that it premiered.

This is a movie that needs no introduction. Its status as a landmark has been cemented and defended. My own earliest memory of seeing 'Jurassic Park' goes back to when I was 3 or 4. There's not much I can recall from that night, but one impression still rings clear as day. What I remember is the scene where the T-Rex bursts through the electric fence after Denis Nedry disarmed the security systems. When that T-Rex tore into the cars, I must've been more frightened than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, because I watched the rest of the scene from beneath the coffee table. Periodically I looked up from my hiding place to see that terrible beast roar. And back under the table I went. I only wish I remembered what my reaction to the velociraptor attack was.

Never had I seen something so real in a movie. It was like being right there. Thank goodness 3-D had its heyday and HD was a ways off, otherwise I might've been watching the movie from behind the couch or closest. The CGI is cited as one of the film's hallmarks and must contribute to why I never outgrew it. It so fascinated me that eventually my grandmother suggested that I watch a different movie. That never slowed me down. And once I discovered the novel by Michael Crichton in my middle school library, I read it with the same ferocity. For all intents and purposes, I was clinically obsessed.

With this movie I discovered a life-long fascination with dinosaurs. I idolized Alan Grant and wanted to dig up bones. Even though my dreams of paleontology have faded, the germ of curiosity and fondness for the unknown has not. Sometimes I wondered what about this movie continued to thrill me. Certainly the quality of graphics and special effects have advanced, arguably with no soul or spirit. And many movies have equally enthralling stories and characters. But this showed me something others did not.

Genres like science fiction tend to draw dreamers. People who want to see more than what the world shows. It reinforces the idea wish dream that out there are marvelous things beyond the bounds of the quotidian and banal. And 'Jurassic Park' did just that it made the impossible possible, if only for two hours. It breathed life into lifeless bones. Injected mystery into nature. Above all, it created hope that there remain things to discover, and that we can touch and see lost worlds.

Perhaps buried in all this is a deep-rooted bond with the so-called 'terrible lizards.' An unstated understanding that, like us, they ruled the world, and likewise, we are bound to the same fate. Wrapped in their bones is the secret of an empire glorious and now decrepit. To know them is to know ourselves.

The American Society for Velociraptor Attack Prevention, North American Velociraptor Defense Association, and United Velociraptor Widows Fund would like to remind everyone that June is National Velociraptor Awareness Month. Protect yourself.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 11:31


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