In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the movies. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.
Signs of the Sexual Revolution in Jurassic Park (1993)
In the beginning, Dr. Alan Grant is averse to having kids. He’s not fond of being around them. He’s annoyed by them. He finds fatherhood to be inconceivable (pun intended) in his case.
Then, John Hammond’s grandkids (Tim and Alexis “Lex” Murphy) enter the picture. The kids are spending the weekend with Grandpa, because his daughter is getting a divorce.
The guests all set out on the park tour. The power goes out. And the tour vehicles idle in the tropical storm by the tyrannosaur paddock.
InGen attorney Donald Gennaro flees the tyrannosaur in terror. He abandons the Murphy children in the SUV. Lex reacts by repeating in a panic, “He left us. He left us.” This is an obvious allusion to the traumatization caused by the divorce of her mom and dad. “He left us. He left us.” Every man in charge of the kids leaves them to save himself.
After the road attack, Lex is still hysterical. “He left us. He left us.” Dr. Grant has to man up, look her in the eyes, and assure her, “But that’s not what I’m going to do.”
Dr. Grant spends the rest of the film living into the call of surrogate father to Lex and Tim. In doing so, he becomes more competent. He gains confidence and affection for children. He teaches them the ways of life as they navigate the wilderness of the park. He protects them all the way to the end. Lex and Tim nap safe and sound in Alan’s welcoming arms on the helicopter to the mainland.
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Then we have the curious conundrum of Dr. Ian Malcolm. He’s the mouthpiece in this movie giving us the moral of the story. And yet he’s no hero in this narrative. His life is that of a man who’s bought stock in the enterprise of free sex and easy divorce. And his crippled condition later in the movie links him to his lecherousness and serial infidelity.
Does he have children?
Me? Oh, hell ya. I love kids. Anything at all can and does happen.
Is he married?
Occasionally. Yeah, I’m always on the lookout for a future ex Mrs. Malcolm.
Malcolm loves having children. But he doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about giving them a stable home life. He’s a guy who can’t make marriage work. And he gets injured and has to rely on others to save him.
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And then there’s the case of Dr. Ellie Sattler. At times, she’s the voice of motherhood.
She taunts her partner Alan about his disdain for children. And she expresses her desire to be a mother. She takes a shine to Lex and Tim and continues her games prodding Alan with the help of the kids.
Ellie and John have a heart to heart over melting ice cream and fond old memories. They express typical male and female ways of responding to the crisis. John wants to act and control the chaos. Ellie wants to feel her way through the chaos rather than trusting in cold reasoning.
And yet there are occasions where another voice comes out of Dr. Sattler’s mouth.
Malcolm makes his quip.
God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man destroys God.
Man creates dinosaurs.
Sattler adds to it in a manner that amends the original meaning.
Dinosaurs eat man.
Woman inherits the earth.
In Genesis 5:1-2 (cf. Genesis 1:26-28), we read the following.
In the day that God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them mankind [i.e. Adam] in the day they were created.
But Sattler extracts Woman out from Man as though Woman can stand apart in this way. Her quip is the “Woman destroys God” counterpart to Ian’s comment “Man destroys God”.
On two occasions, Sattler ventures out to do something dangerous.
The first time is when she goes with game warden Robert Muldoon to rescue the group stranded in the park. She announces she’s going. And no one thinks anything of it. It is what it is. Ellie is being a helper. Good work.
The second time is when she goes to turn the power back on. She and Hammond have an awkward moment about who should be the one to go. It draws attention to the question of “sexism in survival situations”. And by doing so, the viewer must consider everything that follows in light of that question.
What is the significance of Robert Muldoon providing cover for Sattler in the jungle? And what of the velociraptors all being female? And what about “clever girl” in this context? And what of an old man and a crippled man arguing over who’s right in guiding Sattler to her goal? And most chillingly of all, what is the significance of Sattler almost electrocuting the Murphy children in ignorance? A woman with good intentions who went out to do a man’s work endangered the children unbeknownst to her.
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At the climax of the film, the sexual revolution eats itself alive as tyrannosaur collides with velociraptor. Alan, Ellie, and the kids escape Rex vs. Raptor under the rotunda and race to the Jeep out front with Hammond behind the wheel. Grant (as the dad in this functional family) and Hammond (the visionary architect of this theme park) have an exchange.
Alan: Mr. Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.
John: So have I.
They’ve rendered their collective judgment on this allegory for the sexual revolution after nearly being destroyed by it. And being more like natural family was their salvation.