Reminder: The 'Jurassic Park' Novel Was Surprisingly Brainy
We don't have to tell you Jurassic Park's Ian Malcolm is a smart scientist -- besides surviving two dino rampages, there's also becoming a fly and defeating aliens with a computer virus. Pretty amazing stuff. In the 1993 film, one of his most iconic scenes happens early on, as the gang has Chilean sea bass. Now, we all know Malcolm's stance in this classic scene from a blockbuster that has no third part: scientists were so preoccupied with finding a way that they didn't consider if they should, uh, try to pick up the cute paleobotanist?
Getting my references mixed up over here. The point is Malcolm is smart.
Yet this comes straight from the book. For example, Michael Crichton's 1990 original novel already opens with a reflection on biotechnology's ongoing and future development in the general context of the history of scientific revolutions. This brief preface to Billy and the Cloneasaurus, then, is a surprising detail that still seems to go unnoticed and also works as an introduction for the reader on what's to come. Not dry explanations on how to clone extinct animals nor blood and gore (and the novel is very gory), but Malcolm's long, rambling monologues -- themselves echoing Crichton's own views on the problems -- that (in a sentence I have waited my entire life to say) 'ground' the philosophy of Jurassic Park.
One of Malcolm's plot-stopping rants that's particularly noteworthy comes after a T-Rex attack, with the Man in Black morphine'd out of his skull and riffing on how pathetic human fantasies of ending life on Earth sound in the big scheme of deep geological time.
Malcolm's interventions and speeches are a fascinating and little-discussed dimension of the novel. They deal with topics such as chaos theory (duh doy), but also *takes deep breath* non-linear systems, fractal geometry, the logic of scientific discoveries, how lame Jurassic Park 3 is, the history and ethical corruption of modern science, even how little we have really advanced since the health and freedom of paleolithic societies. Okay, sure, we added one item to that list, but seriously, just fun, fun stuff. Plus, the novel has dinosaurs, so that's cool. Also, there's the parody of Jurassic Park in The Naked Gun 33 1/3. Haha, no, don't worry, you're welcome:
So yeah, it is clear Crichton chose to minimize the complexity of its human characters and interactions in order to focus on the finer scientific details of making the dino-cloning stuff credible. A decision Spielberg seemingly inverted by focusing on the humans and instead having the film's exposition dump delivered by a cartoon. That being said, it is worth finally rescuing and celebrating the brainy contributions of the book and Malcolm to the deeper significance of the Jurassic Park concept.
*Sigh* Even if it led to Jurassic Park 3 ...
Top Image: Universal Pictures