Every movie has subtext, but when it comes to the stuff that makes it to the top of the box office, that subtext is usually something like "violence is bad" or "blowing shit up rules" (often at the same time). Popcorn flicks are dumb as hell, is our point.
But as we've talked about once or twice in the past, some blockbusters have surprisingly rich layers of meaning hidden under all those one-liners and explosions. So let us once again be your Nicolas Cage to cinema's random bullshit clue which Benjamin Franklin stuck in a pipe or wooden leg or something, and reveal to you ...
7Jurassic Park Is About Overcoming The Fear Of Becoming A Parent
The original Jurassic Park is full of rich themes, from examining the dangers of playing God to examining the dangers of underpaying and publicly berating the one guy who can keep your family and friends from being eaten by dinosaurs. One overt story element: Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) is trying to convince Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) to have kids. The only stumbling block is Grant's love of pretending to disembowel children for his own amusement.
That kid grew up, got in shape, and learned to train velociraptors, all to get back at him.
Grant eventually comes around, learning that it's more fun to save children than to terrify them -- but as lecturer Mike Hill points out, this theme of creating family is repeatedly underscored in ways you probably didn't notice. For starters, the paleontological dig at the beginning has what's essentially an ultrasound machine, which Sattler and Grant react to like expectant parents.
Not to mention how that is the daddest flannel shirt ever worn.
Then they witness an actual birth ...
At which point the dinosaur immediately breaks out into "I'm The Baby, Gotta Love Me."
... which is followed by an emotional, maternal visit to a sick Triceratops. They even have to wade through its giant pile of shit, which is probably the most accurate depiction of what it's like to have a newborn ever on film.
And Jeff Goldblum is there. It's uncanny.
When Dr. Grant decides that he likes kids and doesn't want to see two of them get eaten by a T. Rex, he rescues the girl by pulling her out of muddy wreckage -- which is disturbingly reminiscent of those childbirth videos they made us watch in school.
They stopped short of having the Jeep do Lamaze.
Then, the moment when Sattler discovers that Grant symbolically had kids by rescuing them is shot almost exactly like Grant's discovery that the dinosaurs are having kids earlier in the film, with the car as a sort of empty egg. According to Hill, this creates a "parallel between life finding a way socially, and life finding a way biologically." In other words, we can conclude that they probably "started trying" right there on the chopper out of the island.
In Jurassic World, the theme of refreshing margaritas and delicious coffee is underscored by all the goddamn restaurant chains shoehorned into the story.
6Tarzan Is Likely About The Writer's Crazy Pro-Eugenics Ideas
Saying that the story of Tarzan is problematic is probably an insult to problems. Even on the surface, it seems messed up. Tarzan is the uncomfortably pro-colonialist story of a white guy (a British lord by birth, in fact) who becomes the king of the African jungle. Even worse, in the world of the stories, "Tarzan" literally means "white skin." If the most recent movie version had been called The Legend Of White Skin, people would have lost their shit.
Meanwhile, "Jane" means "I don't have to have sex with an African woman."
One story even states that "the baiting of blacks was Tarzan's chief divertissement" (though The Erotic Adventures Of Tarzan had a different interpretation of this line). While this could all be viewed as run-of-the-mill old-timey racism, the Tarzan books may have had an even more sinister motivation. According to the biography Tarzan Forever: The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the famed author was a believer in eugenics and the forced sterilization of people deemed genetically inferior or undesirable. He advocated rounding up and killing not just criminals, but their families as well. In Burroughs' own words:
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
This Tarzan Vs. X-Men crossover sounds dope.
That kinda sounds like something the Nazis would say. In fact, they did. According to the book, Burroughs probably didn't side with them because of his "long-standing hatred of Germans." He hated everyone, basically.
With this understanding, it's hard to look at a white guy growing up in Africa to somehow become way awesomer than every African, using only the power of his whiteness, and not see it as an argument for racial purity. No wonder Disney had to use the smooth sounds of Phil Collins as a smokescreen for all the vile shit hidden in the story.
Walt Disney Records
This might explain the movie's hit song, "The Moral Imbecile (Must Be Destroyed)."