Monday, August 30, 2021

Getting into Jurassic Park

We're all staring at our own individual screens now, and that can make it hard to remember how much of a big freaking deal Jurassic Park was when it came out. Everyone in the world wanted to see it as soon as they could, and they wanted to see it at the movies.

They wanted to see Jurassic Park because everyone wanted to see the start of something new. The use of CGI to create animals that haven't walked the earth in tens of millions of years was genuinely mindblowing, highlighting a future where you could put literally anything you could think of onto a movie screen. It's a promise that remains weirdly unfulfilled - we're still waiting for the great CGI art film - but anything felt possible when this popcorn blockbuster bullshit screamed into the world in 1993.

I've only seen that kind of mass culture fascination happen a few times, and it's usually Star Wars related, and it often sours as expectation overwhelms reality. But sometimes there is a piece of culture that isn't just for the nerds, it's a big fucking deal for everybody, and Jurassic Park was it.

Me and my mates were 18 when it hit theatres, visiting friends at university, and every Saturday night screening in Dunedin was sold out by early Saturday afternoon. You couldn't get a ticket anywhere.

We only just got into that sold-out screening at 10.45am in the Sunday morning, and the single screen cinema was absolutely packed. (And after the last year, even just the thought of that, of being in a huge crowd in a cinema is both anxious and incredibly alluring. We'll get back to that place one day.)

Fortunately, Steven Spielberg is really fucking good at what he does, and Jurassic park paid off bigtime. There was a woman in the row in front of me who had the most nineties hat on that you could possible imagine, and I still remember how she nearly jumped through the damn roof when the raptors came calling.

And everyone else would have followed her, because everyone was into it. If there is one thing I've missed and craved over the past 18 months is that sense of community, of being part of a large group all feeling the same thing at the same time.

It wasn't a life-changing experience or anything, but it was a bloody good way to spend a hungover Sunday morning and walking out of that cinema into the bright afternoon, it really did feel like anything was possible.

Unfortunately, what we got was a bunch of Transformer movies. Even the cinema didn't last - it was torn down a few months after it shuddered to the roar of a T-Rex, but they fucked up the demolition, and couldn't build on it, so turned it into a pointless carpark that nobody ever needed in that part of town. 

This is not the future Jurassic Park promised, but at least we all shared the same dream, for a little while.

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