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Impressions - Dinosaurs on screen

Some days ago I bought a copy of Newsweek dated May 15 titled "Dinosaur!". It 
was a report about the new Disney movie. The cover showed a picture of the 
Iguanodon Aladar with some lemurs on his back. 

I did hear about the movie before but somehow I felt disappointed. These 
modern up to date computer graphics are very impressive. This is some kind of 
computer generated "Land before Time" looking very real. Mind you, I'm no 
purist saying "You shall not humanize dinosaurs by creating talking dinosaurs 
on screen!".

But I was somehow reminded of the days of yore :-) when in 1993 Jurassic Park 
hit the screens. It was a story about recreated Dinosaurs in a modern world. 
They were shown as animals, animals capable of adaption to their new 
environment. There was no pretense for hundred percent correctness (just 
remember the frog DNA).

But it created quite an enormous public discussion about how Dinosaurs lived 
and behaved. In the wake of the movie suddenly many books were available here 
in Germany either as translation or as original edition. So I were able to 
get e.g. Dinosaur Heresies, in german translated Dinosaurus! by David Norman 
and A new look at the Dinosaurs by Alan Charig.

Time Magazine had a story (April 26, 1993) titled "Rewriting the Book on 
Dinosaurs" discussing the newest discoveries on dinosaurs with a small add on 
report titled "Behind the Magic of Jurassic Park". With the story in Newsweek 
it's rather the other way - a big story about the movie and it's making, a 
shorter story discussing new discoveries. Perhaps that's the "modern" way - 
first show business, then science.

In November 1999 Walking with Dinosaurs was broadcasted in Germany. It was 
titled "Im Reich der Giganten", which means "In the Kingdom of Giants" 
(stupid translation)! WWD is a very interesting and impressive documentary 
but I think that's the problem. It showed once and for all how dinosaurs and 
other mesozoic animals lived and looked like. To rephrase Bruce Hornsby 
""That's the way it was". I remember my seven year old son saying "But they 
showed it that way!" Some kind of comment explaining what was proven and what 
was a well founded speculation was missing.

So for originality of story and starting a wide public discussion about 
dinosaurs it's kudos to Jurassic Park. But of course this is only my personal 
point of view regarding JP, WWD and Dinosaur!. And I haven't even seen this 
new movie myself.


Heinz Peter Bredow
Bremen, Germany