10 things I learned about being human watching Jurassic Park 3D with my 10 year old self

jurassic park t rex
1) Twenty years ago, I entered Jurassic Park with a child’s imagination. There was no separation between theater and jungle world. It looked real. It felt real. Two decades of memory and dreams recorded the story as a fully dimensioned sensory and emotional immersion. As an adult watching Steven Spielberg’s 3D redux, there is no flattening, no muting of the experience. This is time travel. This is magic, because I’m watching my favourite movie again for the very first time.

2) John Williams’ musical score sends me soaring with an emotional rise heightened by layers of memory… It’s 7:30AM at an Ottawa high school band practice, and I’m playing the flute part of the score. With sudden joy, I realize I’m learning to take myself, with my own hands, to the same peaks of pleasure I’d thought only others could carry me.

3) Malcolm’s musings, mere gibberish to my 10 year old self, now echo my own hard-won philosophical conclusions. Shit, taking him at his word could have saved me 20 years! But no, I’ve worked even harder to preserve (and integrate) Grant’s knee-weakening wonderment at seeing the brachiosaurus. Malcolm and his pessimism can stay in the Jeep. True wisdom can only be found off-road, when you follow your imagination into the fresh cool grass beyond.

4) Watching Nedry’s embryo shaving cream bottle buried in the preserving mud, my 10 year old self was ecstatic. The story wouldn’t end with the movie! Here was a way to more, and more, always more! And there was more, but like The Matrix, the two sequels blasphemed the original. I know now that life is a moment, one breath, one bag of popcorn – by the bottom you’re parched and your lips are chapped, and you wish wish wish you had savoured every kernel with the same exaltation of the first buttery bliss.

5) Muldoon and his knee socks will ever and always be one sexy beast.

6) Nestled in the theatre – like Grant, Lex, and Tim in their tree – with my own younger brother and hero father, I felt the same comfortable confidence in the safety of our eternity. I feel a pang of grief for my 10 year old self. She had find out that Lex was right, that sometimes our heroes leave us and fly to head new stories. And we must learn to rescue our own. Because, ultimately, ‘happily ever after’ is a dynamic state of being.

7) After watching Jurassic Park countless times and reading Michael Chrichton’s (masterpiece) book twice, enough time has gone by to corrupt source memory and the 3D version is a 3-dimensional conglamorate of present experience and two mixed/matched histories. The archtypal characters critizied in the first movie suddenly become fully fleshed internally/eternally contradicting human beings. Male/female (Lex/Tim) complexities and layers of interwoven alternate plot points transform the experience into a dream-like back and forth between conflicting realities. Like Malcolm, Carl Jung was a fool. Categories are butterflies pinned under a frame. “Life finds a way”, but only as undulating change through time.

8) I feel a certain envy for my 10 year old self. Her child’s brain easily gestalted over any breaks in continuity and plot/character inconsistencies. My adult brain, so trained and practiced in picking through patterns, finds suspended disbelief harder and harder, especially being a writer. I can’t help missing my ability to commit to flowing through a story purely by faith.

9) To my 10 year old self, Laura Dern’s Ellie was the epitamy of womanhood: intelligent, beautiful, funny, and kind. As I fell in love with my husband 10 years later, to Laura Dern’s husband Ben Harper’s song “When She Believes”, it was a reawakening of eternities. When my ideal woman’s love story fell apart with Harper, I was forced to give up another grasp at idealist innocence. But watching this movie reminded me of all I’ve gained. I may not have Dern’s legs, but I live, then and now, by Dr. Satler’s optimistic curiousity. I own the power to create my own stories and sustain them through time. I will never stop believing, in my loves, in my heroes, and in myself.

10) Ritual, by definition, strengthens through time. A movie theater, a bag of popcorn, my escape into another world for a full (if quantized) lifetime, gives as much pleasure to my 30 year self as it did when I was 10 years old. Though the intellectual experience has evolved, the emotions are as rich and savoury as ever. So get yourself a center seat, turn off your cellphone, and keep close your own most precious rituals. And don’t ever be afraid to give yourself over fully to their magic. Your inner child will thank you!

jurassic park colouring book pic

97 thoughts on “10 things I learned about being human watching Jurassic Park 3D with my 10 year old self

  1. time travel…..i love the image, the young ten year old, and 30 year old side by side at the movies….a touching reflection Cymbria, that brings to life the 10 year old with her dreams, and loves, and hopes, and the lived experience through time, of what matters and why. Bravo!

    • Thank you Lynn~ Now if only I could actually travel back through time… I’d tell 10 year old moi not to cut her hair short in grade 7 – that so tender of ages – and spare her middle-school “lived experience” so much grief!

  2. Absolutely love this! My cousin and I saw it together opening night last month. I was 4 and she was 6 when it originally came out on vhs, so our perspectives of the film were quite different now as well!

  3. i did that…i lived the movies i saw as a child and i realised certain things were still the same despite the two decades in between. it felt amazing to be back to that time, especially to that me.
    your experience seems wonderful as is your writing. good luck and congrats,

    • Thank you! It really felt like I was in the theater with a bunch of kids… we were all having so much fun. Two decades sounds so long, but I suppose it’s only a blip in geologic dinosaur time. I’m so happy you went on the same ride!

  4. I saw the movie when it came out. Liked it – and hey, it had my fellow Kiwi Sam Neill in it – but the science holes were so huge you could drive a truck through them. For me, that broke the suspension of disbelief. Today it’s dated badly – we KNOW Velociraptor was feathered, and they were only about the size of turkeys (which was known then too, actually).

    Bring on a re-boot, please!

    • Attack of the prehistoric killer turkeys! Hmmm…somehow doesn’t quite inspire the same awe/terror. Who needs science when we have Spielberg! I was shocked at how dated the costumes looked this go round. It takes a real woman to make pleated front shorts look good, then or now.

    • First 3D was JP?! You lucky lucky man! We all had to suffer through Avatar… and I do mean suffer… although I have to admit that one chase scene was pretty cool… but I don’t want to ruin it for you…

      • I’m so with you on that one! A couple of good moments in so many movies, but this was the first total experience that sustained the feeling of wonderment. Although, there was one heck of an awesome piece of seaweed in a 3D Imax I saw as a kid… I could have sworn it floated right out into the theater! And ya, living in Manhattan is pretty much the opposite of living under a rock… unless, of course, we’re speaking metaphorically about the weighty pressure of succeeding in such a crazy intense city 🙂

  5. Just arriving in Germany, I was flipping through the channels as my boyfriend was cursing at the IKEA wardrobe instructions, and I come across that all-too familiar jeep, nose down in that subtropical tree. Yes, watching “Jurassic Park” again through adult eyes, and in German (which was awesome..for me) still brought me back to that special place reserved for childhood terrors and wonder. I would say the score was my favorite part, since I had the suspicion some scenes were deleted, but Williams killed it!

    • It wouldn’t be the same movie with different music! I actually teared up a teeny bit (so geeky I know – thank goodness the theater was dark) when the score rose to match Grant and Ellie’s awe at seeing the dinos for the first time. Mmmm Muldoon in German. I think I just had little geek-asm there. And you were dealing with a ranting not-so-handy man? I can’t imagine how any man, handy or not, could retain his masculine charm when those sweet sweet knee socks popped up on the screen. Congrats on moving to Germany!

    • The book was amazing~ I read it for the first time at my cottage, deep in the jungle-like woods of Quebec – made it feel so real, like a dino could pop out at any moment!

  6. One of my all time fave movies and also books (probably the most read novel I own). And by the sounds of it we’re about the same age, so I TOTALLY get what you’re saying 🙂

    • Thanks Lissyann! I still say they ought to have had more of the book’s ever-so-prevalent disemboweling in the movie… wait a sec… maybe that wouldn’t be such a hot idea in 3D lol

  7. Cymbria, your writing skills is very fluent & amazing, reading your blog like i reading fantasy story 🙂

    • Picking colours can be so tricky~ And the thing with pencil crayons is that once you commit, there’s no going back… like, I suppose marriage… although… I suppose photoshop could be used to grant a quicky divorce lol. I’d love to see the result if you want to try a new combo! Careful though, you could end up with a demonic ‘Barney’ situation lol

  8. I LOVED Jurassic Park. It was so suspenseful the first time around… the slow, rhythmical drumming of the T-rex approach… The clicking of the Velociraptor’s toenails… And I would love to read the books again if I can find ’em.

    • Yes yes yes – the clicking! So absolutely, unequivocally… evil. And the drumming – I heard somewhere that the water vibrations were actually one of the toughest special effect challenges. They ended up using a guitar string mounted under the cup to get the rippling right. There you go… one more bit of utterly useless hear-say trivia to get your week started lol.

      • I heard the guitar string thing too… And that the dinosaur sounds are a blend of animals sounds, usually an UNUSUAL blend, like the call of a whale underwater and a lion roaring and stuff like that. Now I must check this out, lol

      • (Google moment)…apparently the brachiosaurus sounds were a mix of whale song and donkey calls. Because nothing says ‘majestic’ like EEEE-AAAWW donkey braying! Wow, I can’t believe I actually looked that up. A Monday well spent lol

    • Thanks Fiona! Happy to provide the ‘Coles notes’ version for you~ If the movie freaked you out, I’d highly recommend avoiding the book. There’s enough disembowelment (tastefully – and skillfully – rendered, but still…) to give you another two decades worth of nightmares!

    • Stephen Hawking eat your heart out! I’ll sign up for any type of time travel that involves big bags of butter drenched popcorn 🙂 Although that probably wouldn’t help you make it to the finish line of next week’s 10K. Love your blog! Keep kickin’ ass!!

  9. I’m also really excited to see it in 3D. I saw it first when I was 9, so I’ll probably go through the same emotions as you did!
    Let’s not forget the ripples in the water from the heavy steps of the T-rex! Eek!

    • Oh oh the ripples! Love the ripples! I was just having a bit of a geek fest with alienredqueen about how the effects team was having a hard time figuring out how to make the water move the way they wanted… until they solved the problem by up mounting guitar string(s) in the car to give the perfect concentric ripple effect. Dinosaurs? Piece-o-cake. Ripples? Now there’s a real brain buster.

      • I never thought about how they made the ripples. That’s awesome. My 9-year-old self always thought it was the footsteps of the T-rex, and I guess I never grew out of thinking that haha!

      • Or maybe the effects team made up all that ‘guitar string’ stuff to hide the truth… maybe the dinos have been 3D-real all along lol – would have saved on the effects budget~wink

  10. When you mentioned the sequels I chuckled, there for a while Spielberg was tossing around an idea for a Jurassic Park 4 wherein the Government gets dinosaurs, outfits them with guns,and uses them for war. Depending on how old you are this may sound familiar, as that is almost the plot of a cheesy 1980’s cartoon and toy line called “Dino-Riders”!

    • Oh gawd I remember the toys! Which, to be honest, were actually pretty cool. But I never watched the show. My bro and I grew up not being allowed to watch anything even remotely violent – even the Ghostbusters cartoon was on the naughty list (although I do remember sneaking a channel flipping peak a few times and feeling like a real bad-ass 6 year old lol). You know, I wouldn’t even be surprised if dino-guns made it into a sequel at some point down the line. And I wouldn’t really care, because like ol’ Matrix, I consider only one Jurassic Park movie ever to have been made. I suppose that’s another form of suspended disbelief, but one that actually gets easier with time~

  11. First of all, congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed.” Second, JP remains one of my top five movies of all time, and has been since the first time I saw it 20 years ago. I didn’t mind that they reversed the boy and the girl’s roles. I sort of minded that they changed Hammond to a benevolent grandfather. However, upon seeing it in 3D, which I could NOT miss, I noted one very important thing: I still cried when Sattler and Grant saw the dinosaurs for the first time. That is very possible my favorite movie scene of all time.

    I agree with you on the sequels.

    I enjoyed your “10 things.” 🙂

    • Oh and the music in that scene!! I just confessed, somewhat sheepishly, to a commenter that I teared up at that moment too! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who got swept away with the emotion of it all. When the brachiosaurus stomps down I could feel it in my bones… who are we kidding… it quaked my very soul! Not that I’m getting carried away or anything lol

      I was surprised at how little I minded the gender switch. But in my mind, Hammond will always end up being eaten by those wretched little compys.

      • Ah, yes. The music in JP is one of the best soundtracks ever. I love that lush melody. And isn’t it ironic that the very dinosaurs that did in Hammond weren’t even IN the first movie?? And all that talk about them not being able to get off the island . . . they were off the island before the story even started!!! If my memory serves me (which it frequently does not), the opening scene from the first book was actually the opening scene from the second movie.

      • Ok, so the story goes… the opening scene from the book was deemed too scary for the first movie and was moved to the second… which totally through me for a psychological loop (the plots are still all mixed up in my head!) Don’t even get me started on the on/off island debate. And yes, very ironic indeed – I still remember that death scene so vividly… he falls down the hill… hurts ankle… gets bit… brushes compys away lazily… gets nose nibbled… so epic.

  12. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Your writing is invigorating and so deserving of being spotlighted on WordPress.
    You have an authentic voice that is rare on this forum. Keep up the good work..you have a fan in me and I will be following your blog closely. Bravo! Dennis http://www.dlmchale.com

    • I’m flattered and deeply moved by your wonderful gift of a paragraph. And your generosity of using this forum to share your poetry is gift to us all! Your comment gave me a full-on blush that’s made this freshly pressed excitement all that much sweeter. Dennis, your words have such power, whether in prose or verse – I am so honoured to have you as a (I just love this word!) “fan”.

    • Go for it! I can guarantee you one thing… Muldoon and his knee socks are worth the price of admission all on their own I just hope your ‘best man ever’ isn’t the jealous type hehee

  13. Loooooooove this film. Saw it on its day of UK release -my 18th birthday and it has been forever in my heart, only bettered by Jaws.

    Bob Peck’s unfeasibly short shorts cause my heart strings to ping, and his “clever girl” demise has become my most integrated into everyday use quote!

    The film also began my obsession with John William scores having secret lyrics based on the title of the film – Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park, with lots of dinosaurs.

    Ah, the memories!

    • You know, I’ve never had the balls to watch Jaws straight through, growing up swimming in lakes has made me wary of causing myself any PostTramaticJawsSyndrome…(apparently quite an epidemic in the 70s)

      Oh baby Bob Peck’s peck… in 3D short shorts! I’m surprised it didn’t cause a ratings change to X for x-tremely… er… ‘entertaining’ 😉 And I’m so happy his “clever girl” didn’t die with him in the jungle. I still use his “they should all be destroyed,” and always with a bit of an accent for some reason… ah well, Muldoon shall live on forever through loyal (if a wee bit geeky) gals like us~

      Great. Now I’ve got that tune running through my brain all over again, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, except that now I’ve got your lyrics stuck in there too!

  14. thanks for reminding me that i still really need to see this… ‘life finds a way,’ ‘but that’s NOT… what i’m gonna do!’ and, of course, ‘hold onto your butts!!!’ are phrases that still find their way into my conversations on at least a weekly basis. (and i had no idea about laura dern and ben harper– their marriage or their pending divorce! reminds me of my disappointment in benjamin gibbard and zooey deschanel’s marriage’s dissolution:/ ).

    • Oh the sweet tragedy of love! I’ve driven my own ‘feller up the wall a few times with my (admittedly) ritualistic repetition of the following statement whenever Samuel L. Jackson shows up on any screen: “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Sami J. is the movies.” I don’t know how or when I started it, but you can bet your bootstraps it was dangling from my mouth like Samuel’s cigarette when he said the exquisitely infamous “hold onto your butts!!!” – Way to go for keeping Jurassic Park alive in Thailand!!

  15. Some great points made here, in reflections on one of my favorite movies ever. I remember watching this as a kid in the theater also, and just being completely, entirely gripped at the edge of my seat. Movies are better for the suspense aspect but the book challenges your intellectual curiosity. Do you think having the movie in 3D only adds to the experience, or does it take away from the imagination in some ways? I still have yet to see the 3D version, so I can’t say.

    • You know, it was so fascinating because it always felt like I’d seen it in 3D the first time round. As a kid, the experience was so emotionally exciting that my memories of it were really visceral. So when I actually saw it in 3D, it didn’t seem any different – weirdly, but in the best way possible. Usually I’m not a huge fan of 3D, but for this movie I thought it only added to the imagination aspect. But, of course, being a reader/writer, the dinosaurs in the book will always feel more real to me (as will the science) – especially all those horrible little compys!

      Stay safe on your adventures! Bet you’ll get a whole new sense of human nature (hopefully in a good way!) during so many one-on-one captive audience conversations.

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  17. Pingback: 10 things I learned about being human watching Jurassic Park 3D with my 10 year old self | AM/RA Poetry

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