One of many classic films was Jurassic Park which woke up our childhood dinosaur’s interest again. The director Steven Spielberg and his especial effects team knew how put back our feelings about dinosaurs reflecting it on the XXI cinema. A work of three years, mixing paleontology, state-of-the-art technology and mastery gave them life and credibility to these giant creatures.
What is the film about?
While the Park was finishing the last details, the Park’s owner tries to convince to two greatest professors of paleontology to get their approval and endorsement for the project. They and a mathematic, financial assessor and the grandchildren of the Park’s owner get involved in a fantastic adventure with the real danger of being the seized by huge animals which had become extinct supposedly. Meanwhile, a staff technician betrays them getting the embryos of the most famous fifteen species of the Park. For disconnecting all the security systems, the island remains isolated and unsafe, so that the rest of the staff will try to restart all the systems and not be eaten to safe the other friends whom are dying little by little because of the dinosaurs’ attacks.
The situation arrives in a moment when the Park is truly unfeasible for to public open and stays isolated for the world, the few survivors get to go out of the island almost safe. The dinosaurs won the dominating human being’s fight.
Evolution theory vs. Creationism
How a common person who believes above all in the word of God and the Bible could accept the idea that dinosaurs had exist before the human being? And the human being is descendant of monkeys and it was not a creation of the same image of God? Could Religion and Science coexist?
The first truly descriptions of dinosaurs go back to the 1820s thanks to the reverend William Buckland and Gideon Mantell, however, in the century XIII the Italian monk Ristoro d’Arezzo kept the argument that the sea shells found in the mountains could be carried by the Flood, this idea was kept until the XVIII century. The Enlightenment had had a movement with this idea where the leader was Leibniz, who defended it by one reason: the hypothesis could make possible to find their origins in the depths of the ocean, so that we could get the equivalence of the organic fossils, for example the ammonites. To this idea follows several kinds of speculations about the history of the Earth and the Flood. We have to say that Leonardo de Vinci and Bernard Palissy were against to these arguments.
As says the Genesis, the complete Creation, sky, land, seas, plants, animals and man lasted six days, the Middle Age was faithfully fixed to this belief, but in the following centuries, people tried to explain the time of the events of the Bible analysing the land and the fossils founded. By the way, the Bible imposed a narrow chronology which limited the hypotheses more radical. By then, what happened with those giant animals which each day they were finding? Why some fossils had no equivalence in that period? Are those huge animals disappeared species? No way! In that case the Creation would not have being perfect, in order to God could allowed to disappear a great part of his Creation. This conclusion was another contradiction of the Christian dominant doctrine of that period as many others. So, if God was creating each species of all kind of animals and reptiles at the sixth day with the purpose that man can dominate and feed himself by them, as we can see nowadays, it is almost impossible without fire and iron weapons. Unthinkable if man has to fight with a huge dinosaur as a Braquiosaurio or a Deinonychus, the true dinosaur which appears in the film as a Velociraptor. But the main idea is that God could not create each kind of species by a simple reason, the similarities between animals of different species. Had got God time to create all those kind of different lives in one day? How wonderful architect! To these conclusions arrived the first palaeontologists, the first one was Georges Cuvier, who was moved by the lectures of Buffon that he was the first man who had the intuition how huge is the history of the Earth. So after discovering a new species of sea animal which received the name of Cuvier, his studies were driving him to the fossils, and later on to the zoology of the past in 1802. Then Jean-Baptiste de Monet (Lamarck) established a classification that nowadays is accepted: some species still exist, there is continuity, and some are different, the continuity of life and their transformations. The idea of evolution has born here, in Philosophie zoologique (1809). That is the evidence that life is developing until our days uninterruptedly. But who is the true creator of biology evolution’s thought? The English naturalist Charles Darwin, who with his studies about animal lives and the evolution idea of Lamarck, he explains the mechanism of natural selection in The Origin of Species (1859). The different reactions do not wait, some scientists get his ideas and in other people sparked off a big indignation, and later on, he published the Human Descendant (1871) where he includes the human being near to monkey in the animal world, but Darwin knew the fossils although he did not studied deeply, “too missing link” he said.
But, who invented the word Dinosaur? Well, the famous British anatomist Richard Owen, during the annual meeting British Association for the Scientist Progress celebrated in Plymouth (1841), England; he defined these huge and rare animals as dinosaurs. In Greek deinos as dreadful and sauros: lizard in the sense of reptile, because that word does not exist. Before giving us the term, he got the conclusion this animals must not be in the same family either in the same order of our reptiles. They are not crocodiles, either antiques lizards: they are other reptiles which have the same particular anatomic characteristics of our modern animals, so that they are dinosaurs. Owen was the most famous paleontologist in the history, not only by the term, he discovered the anatomic similarities between the animals of nowadays and then, and for that reason he was the superintendent of the British Museum of Natural History in 1804 to 1892.
When the dreams come true
Before Steven Spielberg had thought and realise his dinosaurs’ park, Richard Owen had have the real first park of dinosaurs. The project carried out in 1854 when Owen is a British authority in science. The park was inaugurated in Sydenham, London: the Crystal Palace, a place where you can walk among dinosaurs, Ictiosaurus, Plesiosaurus... and all kind of monsters imagined by Owen. One of the most famous picture of Owen is the huge Iguanodon where inside has feast on the table for all his guests. However, the image that Jurassic Park offers us is a fantastic place where we can fulfil our dreams with real monsters; almost a circus. We should admit that the film is pretty good, the special effects make real the images and also the situation, a little bit soft from my point of view, but if this film could be possible? If this idea, this project could be realised? Are we prepared for this kind of park? Can the human being get all he wants?
We know we live in a technologic age, where science and progress goes forward together and each day the companies realise something new and unbelievable, although we still drive in cars by oil. Furthermore, the sheep Dolly was cloned, but we do not really know if a person has been cloned, science’s secrets. Nevertheless, if we could imagine a real park with real dinosaurs, these would be his possible advantages and disadvantages.
The investments could raise a lot with the first dinosaur cloned; in the film’s example, they got complete the dino DNA holes’ strand with the complete DNA of a frog. The dinosaur’s blood could be got through the stuck mosquitoes in the ambers, which were fossilised as dinosaur’s bones. Then, we would study how they really move, walk, run, breath... a lot of theories could be pulled down seeing a real dinosaur.
When they will have got the first one, they will want more, more species, more fantastic species, more expensive projects, more famous and huger specimens. But which country would discover the Pandora’s Box? Whatever country that discovers the secret will increase their Treasury sing. The tourism will be the main investor, children and full families, riches and not too riches, will visit each part of the park, every day of the year.
The politics could make good use of the great event to benefit from them. So that, the park would be a perfect place of making money, the visitants will have rides, shops, restaurants and its own kind of zoo. Everybody will want to go and will save their money all the year to go to the Park, the only place of real fun. But now we have brought back the dinosaurs, what we will do? Will we spread the species around the world? We will leave dinosaurs live together with our animals? And what about the people, the cities and villages safety? Will we be saved of them?
As everybody wants, we want to get a walk wherever and not being attacked, and less by a monster like a dinosaur. So, to recuperate an extinct animal, like a dinosaur, is pretty dangerous. We do not really know how intelligent they were, how they really hunted, and less if they could be domesticated. As snakes or crocodiles, they do not recognise his owner... then, if we have a dinosaurs’ Park, we would want to have one for us. At this point enters the black market and rich people who wants to show off of his new acquisition, a great dinosaur; the vicious circle has begun...
We have not thought about the organisations which try to protect the Nature, as Greenpeace. The fact of bringing back dinosaurs to this age could be a fatal reaction on the mankind, not only by the attack danger if one dinosaur breaks out of his area, it is inhumane to try to domesticate an animal that was a king on the Earth in his period, that born to be free and now relegated to be a pet. Nor all the technology could make a past king to be a dog.
And the last disadvantage is one of the most important reasons for to not realise that fantastic dream, the past diseases: we do not have any example extracted of the dinosaurs’ bones, or the mosquitoes in the ambers, so that the mankind is not prepare to face that reality. We will not know if we are giving live again to an ill dinosaur which could die of any sickness. So, it is better leave the ghosts rest and only to imagine how they were and live, and maybe how it could be, as in Jurassic Park’s film.
Dinosaurs: inspiration source
Almost to all of us, the fascination by dinosaurs is not eternal but intense; it is limited by our childhood. It usually comes when we have a scholar work or we get our first book about them; soon, children learn all their unpronounceable names, their physical aspects and also their feeding habits. Maybe we felt attracted by them because of their gigantism, their grotesque skeletons’ appearance or a violent and bloody kind of life, but the truth is dinosaurs has woke up our imagination and fear since far past times.
Fantastic literature, paintings, films, toys, have been the result of many mythological legends and studies by many discovers of dinosaurs fossils, but now we have the best film about dinosaurs. Best manifestation of our dreams as in plot as in realistic representation of a dinosaur. Steven Spielberg put emphasis about trying to give a realistic appearance to dinosaurs bringing a team of paleontologists, drawers, and the best team of digital effects and animation. His purpose was that when we see the film, we could believe that the dinosaurs which appear on the screen were really real, so at the time to create their sounds, their roars their movements they had to compare and create them from real animals. They recorded a lot of types of sounds, a lot of types of animal reactions and normal movements, etc. So, the background work was hard, Spielberg did not want to commit the same mistake as the past films. Spielberg and his team spared no expense to fulfil a real dream on our screens and give back the illusion and old fascination about dinosaurs. And now, any film cannot compare him with the saga Jurassic Park because Spielberg got that none have got.
So for the time being, Jurassic Park is the best classic film about dinosaurs in the history of the cinema.
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Gayrard-Valy, Y. 1989. Los Fósiles, Huellas de Mundos Desaparecidos. Madrid: Aguilar Universal.
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Ste. Croix, P. (ed). 1992 (1985). Enciclopedia Ilustrada de los Dinosaurios. Susaeta ediciones S.A.