How Similar Is Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’ to the Book?


The big picture

  • In the Jurassic Park film franchise, the dinosaurs remain on Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna until the events of
    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
    In the novel, however, some dinosaurs have escaped the islands and are heading for the mainland at the beginning of the book.
  • Although many of the same characters from the book appear in the film, there are some important differences. For example, the roles of Tim and Lex are swapped and there is no romance between Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant.
  • John Hammond is portrayed differently in the film as a naïve billionaire, while the book depicts him as strictly evil and reckless.

With talking about a Jurassic World 4 en route and the possible involvement of Scarlett Johansson (unconfirmed) and director Gareth Edwards (confirmed) recently, has brought the spotlight back to the franchise that began in 1993 with Jurassic Park. Steven SpielbergThe film was a critical and box office success, and a key moment in the history of special effects. Jurassic Park The same would be followed by two sequels before seeing the franchise rebooted in 2015 as Jurassic World, giving viewers a look at a fully functional dinosaur park. Until all hell—and an Indominus rex—broke loose. That movie came about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom before returning the original Jurassic Park cast to star alongside the Jurassic World crew inside Jurassic World Dominion. Now, the franchise continues to expand with this latest announcement (whether it should or not is a different question, see here). What is lost is how the Jurassic Park movies began on the page, not the screen, with Michael Crichton's 1990 novel of the same name. Let's take a look at how the film evolved on its journey to the big screen.

Jurassic Park

In Steven Spielberg's blockbuster, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are among a select group chosen to tour a populated island theme park of dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA. While the park's mastermind, billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), assures everyone that the facility is safe, they discover otherwise when several ferocious predators break free and go on the hunt.

Publication date
June 11, 1993

Execution time

Michael Crichton, David Koepp

Universal Pictures

Dinosaurs leave the park early in the novel 'Jurassic Park'

At least until the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdomthe dinosaurs remained on two islands off the coast of Costa Rica: Isla Nublar, the location of the first film and Jurassic Worldand Isla Sorna, where InGen cloned the company's dinosaurs, where The Lost World: Jurassic Park was largely staged. It was a small consolation in the film, to know that the killer dinosaurs were not a threat here in our world, and once our heroes escaped, they could rest easy. Although the novel also takes place on Isla Nublar, a number of small dinosaurs have evaded existing security protocols and been kept on supply ships on the continent before the events of the book.


“Jurassic Park's T-Rex almost killed a crew member, really

When art (almost) imitates life.

The opening of the book details a scene in which a young woman is attacked by a group of small Procompsognathus on a beach in Costa Rica. It's a scene that really opens up The Lost World: Jurassic Park, only the attack occurs on Isla Sorna, not on the mainland. The book also details efforts to contact the supply ship holding a group of young Velociraptor stowaways before reaching the mainland. Good news: the power is turned back on just in time and the raptors are killed by the ship's crew. Bad news: The epilogue makes it clear raptors have made Costa Rica their new home – only no one knows where they are. comforting They probably feel pretty good about it too, especially after hearing that the Costa Rican government has napalmed their old location on the island.

The movie 'Jurassic Park' makes some big changes to the characters from the book

one of Jurassic ParkIts strength is its cast, a collection of actors who have resisted its impressive visual effects while playing characters with different personalities, ideas and motives. For the most part, all the characters have made the transition from paper to film, but who they are is different, and in some cases significantly. Take Tim and Lex for example. In the movie, Ariana Richards plays the computer-savvy older brother Lex, while Joseph Mazzello he plays Tim, the younger brother with a fascination with dinosaurs (maybe not anymore). In the book, the roles are reversed. Lex is the youngest, a baseball fanatic who spends much of the novel crying and goofing off about the danger they're in, playing the part of a naive little boy. Tim, on the other hand, is more balanced, and he is the one who is the computer genius.

Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) enjoy a bit of romantic subtext in the film, but in the novel it's strictly professional, with Sattler as the younger paleobotany student and Grant in the role of a mentor who, by the way, isn't as negative to children as its Hollywood counterpart. As for the other document, BD WongDr. Henry Wu plays a much larger role in the novel, at least until he is killed. Given how central Wu is to the story of Jurassic World Dominion, the movie franchise didn't kill him. This leads to one of the big differences between the book and the novel: who survives. Game director Robert Muldoon makes it to the end of the novel, but isn't so lucky in the film, with a “smart girl” Velociraptor making short work of Muldoon (Bob Peck) in the movie. Ian Malcolm, brought to life by a pitch-perfect Jeff Goldblumis killed in the novel, or so it seems, since in both the film and print the character returns to The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

One of the film's darkest comic parts sees attorney Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) rewarded for his cowardice by the T. Rex who took him from the toilet as a light snack. In the novel, however, Gennaro not only survives, but is one of the protagonists, the one who does everything he can to protect everyone when things go wrong, even risking his own life by throwing himself into a nest of Velociraptor. Do it. The greedy coward in the novel is actually a character who doesn't appear at all in the film, Jurassic Park's head of PR, Ed Regis. Regis is a sycophant to John Hammond, who runs into trouble at the first sign and meets his end in the novel as Gennaro did in the film. Spielberg simply merged the two characters into one.

“The biggest difference between the Jurassic Park books and movies is John Hammond

But what about the man behind it all, John Hammond? In the film, Hammond, played by Richard Attenborough, is a charming billionaire, a lovable old man with good intentions. He's not evil, just naive, he imagines a park for everyone to enjoy, but without considering the bigger picture of what his scientists are doing (the whole “could they or couldn't they stop to think if they should to do” argument). And when things go wrong, he shows great concern for everyone, especially his grandchildren, and in the end agrees that he cannot “endorse the park”. While it can be argued that his character is the villain of the film, it's still hard to see his dream of something grand being shattered.

It is inside direct contrast to the novel's John Hammond, an evil and reckless man since its introduction. He knows everything that has gone wrong in the past, like the dinosaurs on the continent and the red flags of danger around him, but he chooses to ignore it all. And when things really start going downhill, so much so that he can no longer ignore it, Hammond refuses to take any blame for his part, blaming it all on the security systems and others. With dollar signs in their eyes, Hammond only has his own interests in mind, as evidenced by his cold-blooded decision to continue with his plans for the park even after losing all his lives, having learned nothing. And when he dies, and by the way, he dies in the book, it's a karmic tidying up, not a tragedy.

As an aside, all of these deaths, if faithfully reproduced in the film, would have been easily earned Jurassic Park a well-earned R rating. Now that would be a great director's cut.

Jurassic Park is available to stream on Netflix in the United States



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