Jurassic Park 3D: It hasn't lost a bit of its Dino-teeth!

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 24, 2013 14:04 hrs

Jurassic Park 3D is as delightful today as it was two decades back when it first released says Satyen K Bordoloi as he explains how a film need not be intellectually, politically and morally challenged to be an entertainer.

The most entertaining thing about watching an old film in a newly restored 3D version is observing your own reaction to it. You had loved the film decades back, but would you love it again, because of or despite the 3D work?

The most amusing thing you'll notice about Jurassic Park that has found a 3D rerelease, is that you'll love the film as much as you did 20 years back. Perhaps you, like me, will love it much more because if you were a teen or young adult when it first came up, you weren't mature enough to understand the nuances and the politics of the film, but you are now.

There are too many ironies between the film and its subject matter to not pay heed to. Firstly, like the extinct, huge animal it captures, the film has been a giant amongst its peers not just as the biggest box-office hit till then, but also one of the most watched and talked about.

Restoring and presenting the film in the latest technology is akin to the scientists in the film restoring the dinosaur DNA and creating the creature once again. And as a lover of cinema that is both entertaining and intellectual - you won't repent watching it again. 

That's because Jurassic Park is a perfect example of how a film need not be intellectually, politically and morally challenged to be an entertainer.

Jurassic Park is a thriller, a monster movie with shades of horror, an adventure film, and a science fiction film with sufficient dollops of family emotions like love, sacrifice, honour, etc. This multiplicity of sub-genres makes it a heady and entertaining cocktail of a movie.

Yet its greatest strength is that it's a perfect entertainer where morality is not sacrificed at the altar of big bucks. If there is one message of the novel by Michael Crichton (who also co-wrote the screenplay) and the movie, it is about the dangers of meddling with nature and her systems.

As humans we think just because we can do something, we should do it. In our intoxication with science, we don't realize that the ability to meddle with natural laws is a power we have held only for a few decades. Nature however is a laboratory that is as old as the planet. Can we match the perfection and work of 4.5 billion years with the work of 20? And should we? Even if we have to, shouldn't we be more cautious, as we wait, observe and learn before we go ahead with whatever takes our fancy?

The framework for life on the planet, for nature and if you believe in it – for God - is the DNA that every living creature has. Meddling with DNA is fooling around with nature. We have given ourselves the power to do this, and maybe we should, but this meddling, till we have perfected it – which might take several hundred years – perhaps should be kept to the laboratory. It is dangerous to bring the fruits of these experiments out in the open.

The raising of the dinosaur from the dead, from its surviving DNA in the film, thus becomes a metaphor and a statement against every such attempt by every one of us to meddle with nature in different ways. Yes, we have not yet recreated a live dinosaurs, but we have something that might prove to be much more dangerous. Take the case of GM (Genetically Modified) crops.

A few companies in the western world, who have acquired the power to genetically modify crops, are going ahead with modifications with impunity. The idea behind these genetic modifications, they will have us believe, is to protect the crop from diseases and increase the yield. It seems good to hear. But what these companies do not tell us, or perhaps do not know sufficiently of yet because they are too busy profiting from it, is that some of these crops are extremely dangerous to humans causing a host of diseases including cancers, many of which are still being studied.

What these companies also do not tell us is that they have genetically removed from the crops their ability to create seeds. Thus, the farmers have to depend upon the companies for their seeds, reversing thousands of years of farming wisdom where farmers kept a portion of their crop as seed for next year.

The result is thousands upon thousands of farmer suicides in many parts of India, particularly the Vidharba belt of Maharashtra.

Jurassic Park warns us against this meddling with nature, and how it can lead to dangerous consequences for humans and might even put their very existence at stake. In the character played elegantly by Richard Attenborough - of a good natured capitalist who 'spared no expense' in doing what he did - it warns us of our foolishness - even the good-intentioned one - of taking too much of nature's power in our own hands.

In cinematic terms, Jurassic Park delivers a very important lesson to commercial filmmakers across the world: that a film does not have to come at the cost of intellect; and that infused with intellect, a film actually becomes that much more engaging and thus entertaining.

Yet, the greatest pleasure of watching the film is to go through the experience with kids. These restorations and reconversion into 3D give you the rare opportunity to experience with your child, what you experienced with your parents. And the script of the film is designed in such a way, so as to give you a perfect dinosaur experience. 

Firstly, it explains what they are in the simplest possible way giving you a ring side view of the park, and next it takes you inside, along with two children guided by the 'world's greatest authority on dinosaurs'. 

And to amaze you on the way are the immaculate scene conceptualisations and the visuals. The film is literally filled with shots and clips that are iconic today. It was the first film that brought in Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) in a big way. Rendering one frame of the special effect in the film often took up to 4 hours which means that one second of CGI took at least four full days. Yet, the perfection, the easy blending of it all, immerses you in the film and even today, 20 years later, you realise it has neither lost a bit of its Dino-teeth nor an ounce of its heavy bite.

The interest in dinosaurs and genetics increased immensely after the stupendous success of Jurassic Park globally. If there was a way to eke out a royalty from the spike of dinosaur programs in TV and cinema after his film, director Steven Spielberg would have become the richest man on the planet.

But it is perhaps good that he did not become the richest man on the planet, that he is still fired by the zest for making good cinema, affecting our perceptions and of trapping good natured capitalists who'd 'spare no expense' to give Spielberg the chance to bring his ideas to life.

Satyen K Bordoloi is an independent film critic, writer and photojournalist based in Mumbai. His writings on cinema, culture and politics have appeared nationally and globally.