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Re: About Spielberg

> From:     luisrey@ndirect.co.uk

> Yes, we all drooled watching those dinosaurs coming alive, but I still
> could see good old Jehova and his biblical anger every time T. rex showed
> its scary face. The same way Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was dismantled to
> appease every good  American's fear of Science, Jurassic Park led us into
> how bad it really is to try to know too much about 'god's work' (and worst,
> do something about it).

My take was that the message (which was tacked on, let's 
admit, and rendered in a pop-culture manner) was that manipulating 
Nature leads to disaster.  Note that the scientists who studied 
without such manipulation were positively portrayed.  This 
manipulation/study dichotomy is reinforced in the second movie. 

> But I think that's the main reason of the 'monster syndrome'. I've read
> that Michael Trcic, a great sculptor responsible for some of the best work
> in Jurassic Park was under pressure to take away some of the scientific
> accuracy of the animals by Spielberg himself, in order to look more scary
> or 'Godzilla-like' (note the almost boxed skull of T.rex).

In the end, though, Mike mostly got what he wanted on the rex (but 
still had to purge himself by sculpting a Daspletosaur in 1/10th 
scale which is quite beautiful!).  Was the tyrannosaur as portrayed a 
total travesty of science?  If you look at the head of the 
tyrannosaur maquette, for instance, you can clearly see the familiar 
outline of the tyrannosaur skull.

> At the same time, 'Velociraptors' needed false hands to open doors. Showing 
> their hands
> like they really were: restricted to a basic avian folding mechanism
> (clawed wings I call them) would not be so popular!

This is true, for the same reason that human life is so 
patently false in movies: because we are more entertained by 
fantasy, where we do not live, than by reality, where we do live. A 
two-hour, strictly accurate rendering of the past two hours of my 
life (or anyone's, including, for instance, Chuck Yeager's while 
breaking the sound "barrier") would not set box-office 
records.   Given that, I'm surprised and pleased that the animals (we 
can no longer say "dinosaurs"!) are as accurate as they are. 

> Spielberg's movies are basically just modern links in the long chain of
> mass production of sexually inadecuate children that is so essential to
> American (and World) culture: heavy sedation by sanitized violence, special
> effects, sublimized sexuality, Walt Disney and Bible-thumping. 'Good clean
> fun' and with a message.

Of course it's possible to deconstruct his movies (and all movies 
and all popular culture, including so-called art films) in this 
way, but that's life in the Post-Modern world! Spielberg's movies are 
effective fantasies which tap into our love of excitement and 

> What is relevant about them is the fact that he has the money to pay a
> wonderful team of technical wizards that can recreate all sort of  marvels
> through a computer. Nothing else.

Also relevant is that they're great fun, effects being a part of the 
fun.  He directs action sequences very well.

> Let's not fool ourselves. Enjoying the dinosaurs technically is one
> thing... But defending or justifying (even more, scientifically defending
> or justifying) Spielberg's movies is something different altogether. I'm
> all for cynicism and criticism about pseudo-science... Even if it is not a
> crowd pleasing attitude.

Actually in this crowd I think you're in the majority!  I remember a 
computer-programmer friend  telling me about how much he hated 
"Jurassic Park" because of all of the frequently silly portrayals 
of computer programming and computer processes.  I don't think that 
the computer programming world was dragged down to a 
pop-culture-inflicted hell by the movie, though.  The movie does not 
claim to be a visual paleontology text book.

Fear not, Paleo-people.  Try to enjoy the Lost World and whatever 
dividends it pays.  My new secretary came into my office a few months 
ago and asked me if my resin Stegosaurus ungulatus sculpture was a 
pteradactyl (and believe me, she wasn't the first to misidentify the 
animal).  There's your average knowledge of prehistoric life for ya.  
I doubt that she'll ask me that after seeing the first half-hour 
of The Lost World!