“They’re not monsters, Lex. They’re just animals.”
Dr. Alan Grant
I had the opportunity this week to see Jurassic Park (1993) in the theater for the first time since I was in elementary school. The Steven Spielberg blockbuster was presented as part of series of “cult classics.” Considering the original success of the film and the subsequent impact on popular culture, I don’t know that I would describe Jurassic Park as a “cult classic,” but I’m not going to complain.
Obviously, when looking at dinosaur images and popular media, there is a lot that can be (and has been) written about Jurassic Park.
“Jurassic Park is an indigestible feast, finally, because it is too smart for its own good. Certainly it is smarter than any ‘critique’ that might be brought to bear on it. It exploits the cultural image of the dinosaur so knowingly, at so many levels of signification, that it has the effect of unveiling the totem animal of modernity, exposing its inner workings.” W. J. T. Mitchell, The Last Dinosaur Book (1998), p. 226
Rather than indulge in an in-depth analysis or cultural critique here, I just thought it appropriate to briefly share my experience of watching one of my defining childhood films in 2019. Although I, like many people who came of age in the 1990s, may feel some personal ownership of Jurassic Park, it’s not my movie. It’s not even really Steven Spielberg’s or Michael Crichton’s or Universal’s movie anymore, either. It’s our movie. Over the past 25 years, Jurassic Park has become deeply embedded in our collective imaginations and culture.
A significant part of the material success of Jurassic Park was (and still is) rooted in merchandise. Office Jurassic Park merchandise tends to focus specifically on the park logo and the dinosaurs themselves, especially the meat-eating dinosaurs velociraptors and T. rex. In more recent years, though, independent artists and creators have begun producing their own items. These fanworks tend to focus on the moments in the film that have resonated most with audiences, and this was highlighted to me in the theater last Thursday.
One of the first moments that garnered a significant audience reaction, was the line from Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, that, “Life finds a way.”
Not only does this moment encapsulate the bioethical dilemma or moral presented in the film, but Goldblum’s idiosyncratic delivery has made this one of the most memorable quotes from the movie. For example, the quote (which an exaggerated “Uhhh”) is featured on this nostalgic 90s vaporwave aesthetic tee by UnicornEmpirePrints on Etsy:
Another fan favorite moment begins again with Ian Malcom, “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.” But the thought is completed by Dr. Ellie Sattler:
One moment in particular earned a healthy round of applause from the audience on Thursday:
This moment in particular has been immortalized in enamel pin form: