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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

Movie Adaptation Monday - Jurassic Park!

One of my all time favourite movies is Jurassic Park. I mean, what is there not to love? Action and adventure? Check. Dinosaurs? Check. Jeff Goldblum? Check and check again.

It may, therefore, come as a shock to know that I hadn't actually read the 1990 Michael Crichton novel the film is based on until this year. I hadn't actively avoided reading it; I had just never got around to it.

So, given that the movie is an absolute classic and has spawned a mighty franchise that is still going strong today, how does the novel compare? The answer is surprisingly well.

The storyline is obviously quite similar: dinosaurs are biologically re-engineered, they try and create a theme park that would make Mickey quake in his yellow shoes, there is a terrible storm coupled with some ill-timed corporate espionage and then the dino all you can eat buffet commences. There are, however, differences in how it unfolds. For one thing, there is more T-Rex action in the novel and I am a fan of that as I really love the T-Rex!

There are also differences in many of the characterisations. Whilst the characters do have the same names and occupations, they are portrayed with varying degrees of difference in the film. John Hammond, for example, is not quite the loveable, eccentric billionaire Richard Attenborough portrays in the movie! Jeff Goldblum's character Ian Malcolm is probably the closest to his film portrayal, and the novel has the luxury of exploring more of the chaos theory and mathematical arguments for the inevitable failure of the park that his character brings to the mix. Please don't think this makes the novel stuffy, however. It moves along at quite a pace and once I started reading it, I struggled to put it down.

In all honesty though, despite these differences, I do think the film is a very good adaptation. Yes, it simplifies some elements of the storyline for the movie audience, but what it does it does well. Some minor things age it; For example, the wonder of one of the children at seeing a touch screen computer is kind of funny to a modern day audience, as well at their excitement at the processing power of the computers, but for the most part it has aged incredibly well.

Whilst Crichton only wrote two novels in the series, I can see how some elements from this one have shaped the third installment of the film franchise. There is a scene here, for example, within the Pteryodactyl aviary which we don't see on screen until Jurassic Park III. I have not yet read the sequel The Lost World but I added it straight away to my wishlist and I am looking forward to seeing the similarities and differences between that book and both the second and third movies.


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