This Explanation Will Change How You View 'Jurassic Park'

Spielbergs Subtext - Mike Hill [VIDEO] Image:Murray Close/Getty Images; Video: Trojan Horse Was a Unicorn

Last year's "Jurassic World" was a blockbuster in terms of ticket sales and revenue generated, but a common criticism of the film was that it had all the bells and whistles you'd expect, but none of the heart you'd hope for. Realistic-looking animated dinosaurs are one thing, but a real, relatable, human story? That's something else entirely.

The latest in the line of sequels to Steven Spielberg's 1993 film "Jurassic Park," the CGI-heavy "Jurassic World" left an oddly empty feeling in many viewers, including designer Mike Hill. That troubled him, and he decided to analyze why two films that are on the surface so similar could evoke such a different reaction. His conclusions about what made the original such a success cast the Spielberg film in a new light, and one that'll change the way you see the movie.


Delivered at a Trojan Horse Was a Unicorn culture-and-design meeting last month in Berlin, Hill's half-hour talk walks the audience through the successes of Spielberg's 1993 dino romp. Set aside an occasionally chatty crowd and the infrequent profanity popping up in Hill's presentation — this isn't a highbrow TED Talk, after all — and you'll find an insightful look into cinematography, narrative structure, and what the whole purpose of this very human act of telling stories really means. For instance: Hill explains the subtextual reason why Laura Dern's character plunges her arm into dino droppings, and it all makes sense in a totally new way — it all has to do with the search for family structure and reinforcing maternal and paternal roles.

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Actors Laura Dern and Sam Neill and a triceratops in a scene from 1993's "Jurassic Park."
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Hill makes clear his disdain for 2015's Chris Pratt-starring "Jurassic World," presenting side-by-side frames from it and the original film to show how much the follow-up lifts from — or pays homage to, if you're feeling generous — Spielberg's pop classic.

Think back to book reports where you had to parse theme and plot, and you'll get what Hill's going for when he lays out the ways that one of America's filmmaking masters gets an audience to care for a film on a basic, subtextual level. All while still oohing and ahhing over what seem like real dinosaurs.

We won't go into any more of the details of Hill's thesis here; watch the video and let him best explain his reading of the film.  He makes a convincing case for Spielberg's film transcending the Michael Crichton novel on which it was based, using allegory and archetype to craft a film that's about something. 

And that something isn't just resurrected velociraptors chasing Sam Neill — though yes, it's got that too.

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"Jurassic Park" director Steven Spielberg poses with Tyrannosaurus rex props in 1993.
Murray Close/Getty Images