Jurassic Park, all three movies no less, arrived on Blu-ray for the first time this week. The set’s more than just a way to see the films in the highest definition format possible, they’ve loaded the three discs included with all sorts of amazing extra features. It’s the kind of thing that any fan of science fiction really has to own, and though I’m only partway through the first disc full of features, the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy Blu-ray set has already justified its existence on my shelf.
Here’s just a few of the things I’ve learned after viewing only about 1/4 of the available material:
The T-Rex Shivers When It’s Wet
Stan Winston’s animatronic T-Rex, used throughout the movies, wasn’t designed with waterproofing in mind. That iconic scene in the rain, where the Tyrannosaur attacks the sightseers’ trucks was originally supposed to be dry. Spielberg, however, decided at the last minute it would look better in the rain and after Winston warned him he wasn’t sure what would happen, turned on the water anyway. The water soaked the foam rubber the animatronic T-Rex was made of, causing it quite literally to shiver under the weight. Stan Winston’s assistants were forced to try and towel the creature off, between takes.
Ian Malcolm Wasn’t Supposed To Be A Hero
The script originally had Jeff Goldblum’s character, Ian Malcolm, running off and hiding like a coward along with the lawyer character who later gets eaten in the T-Rex attack. But Goldblum thought it would be better if he did something heroic and, at the last minute, convinced Spielberg to let him grab a flare and help Sam Neill’s Dr. Grant character try and save the kids before he’s taken out by the T-Rex.
Dinosaurs Are Dolphins
Michael Crichton, who wrote the book Jurassic Park is adapted from, originally described his Velociprators as being like super intelligent, violent dolphins. Ironically, dolphins actually ended up providing their voice. The Raptor attack roar is a mix of dolphin and walrus sounds. The T-Rex’s roar on the other hand, is a special mix made out of the sounds made by a baby elephant. Good thing baby elephants don’t have fangs.
First In Digital
Spielberg claims Jurassic Park was the first movie with a digital soundtrack. He also had a hand in pushing distributors to begin using DTS systems in their theaters, in order for the soundtrack to really sound the way it was meant to. Pushing technology forward was a big motivation for Spielberg on the film.
Jurassic Park Was Meant To Be Stop Motion
Speaking of pushing technology forward, Spielberg originally intended to shoot all the wide shots of dinos leaping and running using stop-motion. At the time no one had ever done anything even remotely like what was required for the film with CGI, so he didn’t consider it. ILM approached him though, and showed him what he could do, and the entire stop-motion team, already at work on the dinos, was taken off stop-motion and sent to work with the CGI team. As they worked the computer graphics kept getting better and better, and by the end of the film they’d even started using CGI for many close up shots, in concert with puppetry and animatronics.
Princess Di Was Scared Of Dinos
One of the first showings of the film was a command performance in Britain, where Sam Neill sat next to Princess Di. He says she jumped at all the really scary parts.
Three Horns Are Better Than One
Steven Spielberg’s favorite dinosaur is the triceratops, and it’s worth noting that the animatronic dino which seemed to impress the cast the most, was the animatronic Triceratops they interact with while it’s laying on its side.
This Ain’t No Monster Movie
One of the themes Spielberg revisits frequently in the Blu-ray special features is his determination that Jurassic Park wouldn’t be a monster movie. It’s scary in parts but he wanted to make it more than that, a movie about science and a film that approached dinosaurs with the same sense of wonder he had for them when he was a kid.
Raptor Almost Got The Last Word
Jurassic Park ends with that big scene where the T-Rex barges in and kills the Raptors, saving Dr. Grant, Ellie, and the kids. Originally though the T-Rex wasn’t supposed to show up and the Raptors were going to be the last dinosaurs seen on camera, killed beneath the falling bones of the T-Rex skeleton. After seeing and using the T-Rex, Spielberg fell in love with him, and they changed the ending to give him the last word, in a scene intentionally reminiscent of some of that classic movie monster King Kong’s rescues.
Steven Spielberg shot Schindler’s List while he was still finishing post production on Jurassic Park. He frequently found himself driving around Poland evaluating John Williams’s score in his car, or taking breaks between scenes on Schindler to review effects on Jurassic Park. The weird mix between the two movies seemed to genuinely unsettle him and now he says he remembers almost nothing of the post-production on Jurassic Park as a result.