Friday, May 22, 2015

Countdown to Jurassic World: Jurassic Park

Ah, nostalgia.

I get a healthy dose of it every single time I think about the movies of my childhood. In my memory, my childhood events are tied to the movies (and books, but this post is about movies) that came out around that time. Movies are some of the strongest memories I have:

Ariel swimming on-screen in The Little Mermaid, the first movie I ever saw in the theater.

Seeing Titanic in the theater six times in 8th grade. Both because it was the thing to do (us 8th graders put our spent ticket stubs in the clear fronts of our school binders to show how many times we'd been), and because I was into the Titanic disaster before it was cool, so I had to prove myself.

Waiting in line to see the first Lord of the Rings movie, and the first Harry Potter movie. My mom pulled me out of school for both so we could see them the day they came out.

Realizing I was completely in love with adventure somewhere about three seconds into the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

And many, many more. But there's one that stands out, even above all the rest. One movie that genuinely gave me my love of movies.

My dad, when I was 9 years old, took me and my older sister to see Jurassic Park in the theater. I've been a gigantic wuss all my life, so the movie should have scarred me and left me with either years of therapy bills or a strong phobia of dinosaurs. But instead, I have vivid memories of that dark theater, sitting all the way up in the back row (this was before stadium seating, so the view wasn't that great, but my dad wanted to make sure we could leave quickly if we needed to). I remember being scared during the velociraptor and t-rex scenes, but honestly more fascinated than anything else.

Jurassic Park was the first movie to really embrace CGI special effects. Much like Titanic (though more like the disaster, since the movie was still four years away), it was also a great example of the hubris of humanity, and though it went over my head at the time, it had plenty of social and political commentary. Also much like Titanic, it wasn't any one event that led to disaster, but rather a fascinating perfect storm of individual sub-plots that all added up to a spectacular failure.

For all I know, Jurassic Park may have given me my eventual fascination with the Titanic.

On top of that, I'm reasonably certain I can trace my eventual wandering onto the path of zookeeping back to Jurassic Park. Yes, even though it ended poorly for all those zoo workers, I still wanted to do it. Of course I did.

Finally, Jurassic Park seemed like an inevitability in the series of other dino-themed media that, in the 80's and early 90's, also marked my childhood: The Land Before Time, the creatively-named movie Dinosaurs!, and the even less creatively-named TV show Dinosaurs.

In other words, if one movie was an iconic inspiration that shaped me into who I am today, it's Jurassic Park.

Which is why, even though it looks campy, and even though I'm half terrified it will be awful (in a bad way), I am so excited for Jurassic World that I just might pee my pants.

I'll be live-tweeting Jurassic Park tomorrow night, May 23rd, at 7:30 PM PST (approximately, I have a job and a baby and would like to eat at some point). Tune in for snark, nostalgia, and some fun zookeeper takes on the whole thing. You can click over to my twitter feed on the right sidebar there or find me as @LTHost.

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