It is rare that a director can define an entire era of filmmaking but, throughout the late 20th century, the films of Steven Spielberg did just that. From the likes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, to Hook, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan into the 1990s, there was no western director with the same cinematic vision as Spielberg.
No film better matches the director’s ambitions than Jurassic Park, an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s iconic science fiction novel, released in 1993 starring the likes of Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Richard Attenborough. Using game-changing special effects and giant animatronic practical models, Spielberg managed to create the finest dinosaur film ever made, despite the many films that attempted to copy its brilliance.
Discussing his inspirations behind taking on the iconic novel, Spielberg told the directors guild of America (DGA), “I really believe that when I read Michael Crichton’s book, I flashed back to Jaws and I flashed back to Duel… I’d wanted to make a dinosaur picture all my life because I was a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen,” Spielberg admitted, making note of the influential visual artist. Continuing, the director rightly added, “Jurassic Park was the first movie where the entire success or failure of the story was dependent on these digital characters”.
Understandably, the production of the film itself was a substantial one, involving a massive crew and expert special effects team. Whilst many documentaries go into the intricacies of the shoot itself, this rare behind the scenes footage shows Steven Spielberg work alongside child actors Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello as well as Jeff Goldblum with an authoritative yet laid back tone, sporting some funky ‘90s gear in the process.
More impressive is the set design of the film that is also on show in the video, with the exterior of the park’s main building wonderfully created alongside a wondrous vista of tall palm trees and flowing springs. Closing the video we see Steven Spielberg capture the moment Sam Neill’s Doctor Grant witnesses the herd of brachiosaurus in one of the film’s most iconic moments.
Stories of the film’s production are intricate and complex, whilst others involve far more rudimentary forms of special effects, including how the sound of mating tortoises was used to recreate the bark of the velociraptors. As Gary Rydstrom, the Jurassic Park sound designer explains: “I recorded that at Marine World…the people there said, ‘Would you like to record these two tortoises that are mating?’ It sounded like a joke, because tortoises mating can take a long time. You’ve got to have plenty of time to sit around and watch and record them”.
Take a look at the fascinating behind the scenes video from the film below, eclipsing the production effort on the most recent Jurassic World efforts. Jurassic World: Dominion is due for release in 2022, starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and more.