Thursday, 26 January 2017

'Clever Girl' - Foreshadowing, Breadcrumbs and Jurassic Park

"Dinosaurs have more in common with present day birds than they do with reptiles" - Jurassic Park

Recently my husband and I re-watched the first Jurassic Park from 1993. If you haven't seen the movie yet, there will be major spoilers in this post. I suggest watching it before continuing.

Since I had already seen Jurassic Park (albeit years ago), my writer-brain was extremely active during this second viewing. I was able to pay close attention to what happened, when, and what choices the filmmakers made.

One thing that stood out to me was the amount of foreshadowing they did.

In the opening scene they show a close-up of a Raptor-eye paired with a close-up of Muldoon's-eye. Muldoon is the park warden and he reminds us, constantly, how vicious and smart those Raptors are - basically spelling out his own doom. It's almost like the filmmakers planted a giant red X on him by letting us know, 'this dude's tough, but the Raptor's are tougher.'

As writers we can often shy away from being too 'on the nose' with regards to foreshadowing. So I found it most interesting when (within the first ten minutes) one of the main characters, Grant, tells a story to a young boy that doesn't just almost happen, or sort of happen, it directly happens.

As a first time viewer, we have no idea that this story spells out the future, so it goes into our memories but not consciously... we sort of file it away as filler. In this way, filmmakers avoid seeming too convenient when the instances occur later in the movie.

The story goes like this (I am directly quoting the character Grant):
"Try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous Period. You get your first look at this six-foot turkey as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly bobbing his head and you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement, like T. Rex, and he'll lose you if you don't move but no, not the Velociraptor...

Note: this not only tells us about the Velociraptors, but also the T. Rex. Grant tells another character (and reminds the audience) of this inability to see motion later in the film when the high voltage fences go down. This is so that, at the end, when you think the humans are doomed (trapped by a Raptor) and frozen in fear... the Raptor MOVES TO STRIKE but gets eaten by the T. Rex because of its movement. In this opening monologue the script sets up the rest of the movie for us so that none of it seems arbitrary or convenient later. Now back to the script...

...You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side. From the other two raptors you didn't even know were there."

And how does Muldoon perish?


Muldoon dies while tracking the Raptor whose eye he caught at the beginning. The one who has earned his respect, the one who lured him in and made him think he was the hunter, when in fact he was the one being hunted,"Clever girl."

Throughout the film there are many more of these moments. From Malcolm implying that 'a group composed entirely of female animals will find a way to breed' to explaining exactly what the Dilophosaurus will do to Nedry, to pretty much everything Samuel L. Jackson's character Arnold says.

I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Foreshadowing is like breadcrumbs for Hansel & Gretel - left throughout the first two acts to lead your characters (and audience) into the third, where you pick them up and are lead into familiar surroundings.

- M

*M, Mmmm breadcrumbs. I miss gluten... Clever post M, clever post. - J

No comments

Post a Comment

© M&J
Maira Gall